After 4 months in custody, Kayla Montgomery free on personal recognizance bail, must check in daily with MPD

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Kayla Montgomery pulls her hood over her face as she walks outside for the first time in four months, since her arrest on Jan. 5, 2022. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

MANCHESTER, NH – The stepmother of a missing 7-year-old girl was granted personal recognizance bail Friday on charges unrelated to the disappearance of her stepdaughter, Harmony Montgomery.

Kayla Montgomery, 31, of Manchester, sought bail Thursday in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District on charges accusing her of theft by deception, two counts of welfare fraud and two counts of receiving stolen property – a rifle belonging to CF.

Harmony Montgomery, 7, has not been seen since late November/early December 2019 when she was 5-years-old.  Authorities did not know of her disappearance until her mother Crystal Sorey, 31, of Devens, Mass. reported in late 2019 she hadn’t seen her daughter for two years.

Kayla Montgomery, when questioned by detectives about Harmony’s disappearance, said she believed Adam brought Harmony to Sorey the day after Thanksgiving 2019.  She told investigators she hasn’t seen Harmony since.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jesse O’Neill, in court Thursday, argued that Montgomery’s bail should remain the same — $5,000 cash or corporate surety with conditions – because he maintained Montgomery violated bail conditions.  He said on a recorded phone call from the jail with Adam Montgomery, her estranged husband and Harmony’s father, shows she violated the court’s no contact order with Adam Montgomery. 

Kayla Montgomery, he said, told her father-in-law to pass on a message to Adam Montgomery.

“I still love him,” Kayla Montgomery reportedly said. 

 “This defendant and Adam Montgomery are potential witnesses in each other’s cases, they both potentially have information that they could be called on to testify,” O’Neill said.

Kayla Montgomery is indigent and unable to post any bail, according to her attorney Paul Garrity.  Her original bail order allowed the $5,000 cash/surety bail to convert to personal recognizance if she entered and successfully completed the Cynthia Day program, a drug treatment program.  However, Cynthia Day informed Montgomery that they would not admit her to their program.

Garrity argued she should be released on personal recognizance bail because the crimes she is charged with rarely result in prison sentences.

Judge Amy B. Messer, in her three-page order issued late Friday,  granted personal recognizance bail.  She said the bail statute states that the “court shall not impose a financial condition that will result in the pretrial detention of a person solely as a result of that financial condition unless the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that the nature of the allegations presents a substantial risk that the person will not appear and that no reasonable alternative will assure the person’s appearance.”  The state, she said, “has not met its burden here.”

She said Montgomery has a limited criminal history and no history of failing to appear for any court appearance.  Messer said Montgomery has previously complied with court-ordered conditions of a deferred sentence.

“The defendant was aware of the police investigation regarding H.M. for approximately 10 days prior to her arrest on the initial welfare fraud charge and made no attempt to flee.  Her contacts in the state are significant.  The defendant is a nearly lifelong resident of New Hampshire, and her children and extended family members are here.  The defendant has also been participating in medically assisted treatment for substance use disorder while at the jail and intends to continue in treatment if released,” Messer said in her order.

Messer, in responding to the state’s argument that Montgomery violated the bail condition of no contact with Adam Montgomery, said the court does not find that the statements, when viewed in the context of the entire conversation, are sufficient “to overcome the state’s burden to show that there are no conditions that the Court can set to reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance or that the defendant will not be able to abide by court orders.”

She said she does not minimize the “prohibited conduct engaged in by the defendant, but finds it is not sufficient grounds to deny her bail request altogether.”

Messer cautioned Montgomery, however, that “any further contact with Adam Montgomery, direct or indirect, or through a third party, may be cause for immediate revocation of her bail.”

Montgomery must abide by conditions including that she check in daily in person at the Manchester Police Department; must continue to participate in substance use disorder treatment; shall not travel outside New Hampshire and must sign a waiver of extradition before release. She is to have no contact, direct, indirect or through a third party with Adam Montgomery.

Adam Montgomery, 32, is detained in the Valley Street jail on eight new felony charges related to the theft of a rifle and gun, weapons also belonging to CF, the same person in Kayla’s case.

He also is charged with being an armed career criminal, which on conviction carries a mandatory 10 to 40 years in state prison.

He has been jailed since his arrest on New Year’s Eve 2021 on charges of child endangerment and second-degree assault.  He is accused of blackening Harmony’s eye in the summer of 2019.

 A caseworker with the state  Division of Children, Youth and Families investigated the allegation concerning the assault and determined it was “unfounded.”

Earlier this week, a report issued by the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate said Adam Montgomery was given custody of Harmony in 2019, despite numerous red flags. The report faults the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, as well as the Massachusetts family court system for failing to protect the child.

“The key and central finding in this investigation and report are that Harmony’s individual needs, wellbeing, and safety were not prioritized or considered on an equal footing with the assertion of her parents’ rights to care for her in any aspect of the decision making by any state entity,” the report states.

The reward for information leading to Harmony’s location is now at $150,000 Anyone with information about Harmony should call or text the dedicated tip line, monitored 24/7, at 603-203-6060.

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About this Author

Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.