Review: Claim Harmony Montgomery had a black eye unfounded
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Months before a 5-year-old New Hampshire girl disappeared in 2019, a child protective services worker visited her home and concluded that an allegation that the girl received a black eye was unfounded, according to a review released Friday through Gov. Chris Sununu’s office.
The worker’s assessment of Harmony Montgomery was part of a Sununu-requested review of the case from the Division of Children, Youth, and Families and the state attorney general’s office.
It recommends that New Hampshire improve its case management system and pass a new agreement with neighboring states to improve communications on child custody matters. Harmony was in foster care in Massachusetts before a judge there gave her custody to her father in New Hampshire in February 2019. That state is currently reviewing how it handled Harmony’s case.
Following the case worker’s July 2019 visit, the family of Harmony Montgomery was “identified as high risk of repeat child welfare system involvement” and was given referrals for housing supports, Friday’s review said.
During a second visit that August, the worker noticed a red mark in Harmony’s eye and faded bruising under her eyelid. The worker was told by Harmony and her father that the mark was caused by “horseplay with another sibling when a toy light saber struck Harmony Montgomery near her eye.”
Two other visits that year showed “the children appeared happy and healthy,” the review said. The last visit was on Oct. 1, 2019.
Police continue to investigate Harmony’s disappearance, which they believe occurred between Nov. 28 and Dec. 10 of 2019. But they did not learn she was missing until two years later.
In an interview with police late last year, Harmony’s great uncle told officers he saw her with a black eye in July 2019. He said her father, Adam Montgomery, told him he hit her after he had seen his daughter holding her hand over her younger brother’s mouth to stop him from crying, according to the police documents. The great uncle said he notified the division.
The review released Friday said the division didn’t have contact with Adam Montgomery again until January 2020. When asked about Harmony, he said the child was living with her mother in Massachusetts.
A child protective services worker left a voicemail for the mother, but the call wasn’t returned and there is no evidence of any additional attempts to contact her, the review said.
Adam Montgomery made similar comments about Harmony when a case worker visited the house twice in 2021, the review said.
In September, someone known to be a “close contact” of Harmony’s mother, Crystal Sorey, contacted the division and “raised concerns” that Sorey hadn’t seen her daughter since 2019 and hadn’t been able to contact Adam Montgomery, the review said. The division confirmed that Harmony had never been registered for school in the public school system.
The division attempted to find the Montgomery family and speak with Sorey, who later told police she hadn’t seen her daughter since a Facetime call around Easter 2019.
“Crystal’s focus remains on bringing Harmony home,” her attorney, Rus Rilee, said in a statement Friday. “We will be responding to this report once we have had a chance to review it.”
Adam Montgomery was charged with several counts, including failing to have Harmony in his custody. Harmony’s stepmother, Kayla Montgomery, was jailed on charges that she lied last year that Harmony was in her household to claim food stamp benefits. They have pleaded not guilty and are in jail.
Police are still requesting help from the public in locating Harmony. Anyone with information can call 603-203-6060. Manchester police have also said a reward for information that helps find Harmony has also grown to $144,000.