MANCHESTER, NH – Above the din of the generator powering the police mobile command unit and the constant whir of slow-moving cars up and down Pearl and Orange streets, the sound of a hammer on push-pins into a utility pole was barely audible, even at close range.
But the woman with the hammer saw the moment as an opportunity.
“I’m the one who put up 675 signs. I painted rocks purple and put her picture on them,” said the woman, who only wanted to be identified as Marsha. “I’m not doing it for the notoriety. I’m doing it because nobody else was.”
Despite the heavy news coverage of the case, Marsha believes signs on every city corner are needed to keep Harmony Montgomery top of mind.
The woman said she came out Tuesday morning because she thought seeing the boxy yellow apartment building at 644 Union St. cordoned off, and the huge presence of law enforcement officials and onlookers, would be comforting to her, the thought that maybe – finally – there would be news of Harmony Montgomery’s fate.
“But it’s not comforting. I find myself feeling more upset by this,” she said. She had retrieved a canvas bag of posters and pens with messaging imprinted on them from her car, all of which were donated by Staples in Manchester and Bedford or funded by a group that has established the harmonmontgomery.com website.
The heart-wrenching case of a little girl last seen alive in late 2019 at age 5, has moved so many in the community, some of them moved to action, like Marsha.
“It takes a lot of signs to cover a city the size of Manchester,” Marsha says. I gave away more than 100 signs and put the rest up myself,” abandoning the plastic covers when she noticed they were collecting moisture, obscuring Harmony’s all-too-familiar face. “I just pray they find her.”
The reality of the grim case leads to the thought of where Harmony could be, a thought that has haunted so many of those who found their way to the block on Tuesday morning, across from Holy Trinity Cathedral, where detectives set up tents in the front to protect from plain view the entryway of the apartment building, and in the back parking lot, where a Manchester Fire vehicle was parked near a red tent.
Early Tuesday police, assisted by the FBI, the U.S. Marshals service and the NH Attorney General’s office, taped off a block on Union Street, between Pearl and Orange streets, and established a command center using the police department’s mobile crime unit. Detectives and others wearing white protective coverings over their street clothes, could be seen moving between the command center, the interior of the apartment building and the back parking lot.
TV news crews, both local and from Boston, set up cameras at either end of the isolated area and were joined by dog walkers, people on bicycles, and several groups of nearby residents, curiosity seekers all – many of them moms – who talked about the empathy and heartbreak they have for Harmony.
One of those moms, who did not want to give her name, said she knew Harmony’s stepmother, Kayla Montgomery, before the story became news, from trips to the local Laundromat. “If she knows something, I hope she told them everything,” the woman said. “I have no sympathy for her.”
Another mom said her own daughter is 8 – “just like Harmony would be,” adding that she continues to pray for the little girl. “Any news would be great – even if it’s finding her body. It’s time,” she said. “It’s time for closure for the family, and for poor Harmony.”
They had been there long enough to see investigators moving an air conditioner from an upper-floor apartment window, and also through a lower-level window with purple curtains.
“If I were a detective the first thing I would have done is search every address where Adam lived,” she said. “I wonder why they’re here now?”
When asked, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office on Tuesday would not say whether this particular residence has been searched previously.
“With our active evidence search ongoing, we do not anticipate any [comment to the media] today unless news warrants,” said Michael Garrity, director of communications for the NH Department of Justice.
Adam Montgomery last appeared before a judge in family court on June 13, along with Harmony’s mother, Crystal Sorey, regarding Adam Montgomery’s parental rights. That hearing was continued to a date yet to be determined.
Earlier this month Kayla Montgomery was again arrested, this time on purgery charges alleging she lied to a grand jury about her employment status, but was released on June 6.
Under the terms of her release on $5,000 unsecured bail, she was ordered to have no contact with her estranged husband who is detained in the Valley Street jail on various charges including one accusing him of assaulting Harmony in the summer of 2019, blackening her eye. She was also ordered not travel outside New Hampshire; check in daily in person at the Manchester Police Department, and participate in substance use disorder treatment as recommended by a treatment provider.
Adam Montgomery remains jailed on preventive detention on charges including assaulting Harmony in the summer of 2019, blackening her eye. He also is charged with gun offenses and is accused of being an armed career criminal.
When questioned by detectives concerning Harmony’s disappearance, Kayla said she believed Adam brought Harmony to her mother, Crystal Sorey, 31, in Devens, Mass., the day after Thanksgiving 2019.
She told investigators she hasn’t seen Harmony since.