Editor’s Note: This story includes court testimony that describes violent child abuse and other graphic scenarios. We caution the reader that it is unsettling. To report child abuse or neglect, please call The NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence at (800) 894-5533 or (603) 271-6562.
MANCHESTER, NH – Kayla Montgomery, the estranged wife of Adam Montgomery, who is accused of murdering his 5-year-old daughter, told jurors Friday how Adam in December 2019 repeatedly punched Harmony in the head, killing her, and that for months after, how he schemed to hide her body until he finally got rid of it in a March 2020 trip into Massachusetts.
Kayla, 33, said that on Dec. 7, 2019, Adam “repetitively” punched the little girl in the head from the time she woke up in the morning, again while outside a methadone clinic where the couple obtained their doses, and as Adam drove the family to Burger King to get breakfast.
The defense maintains that Kayla is the one who killed 5-year-old Harmony and that Adam agreed to take the fall for it so that the state wouldn’t take away their three children, two sons and a daughter.
New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Christopher Knowles, under direct examination, asked Kayla to look at the jury and then he asked, “Did you kill Harmony?” “No,” she said looking directly at the jurors.
Kayla said Adam beat Harmony that day because the little girl kept peeing and pooping in the car, home to the family of five, including the couple’s two young sons (she gave birth to a third child later) after being evicted from their 77 Gilford St. home 10 days earlier.
Kayla was the only witness on Friday, the third day of Adam’s second-degree murder trial in Hillsborough County Superior Court North. And, for the third straight day, Adam did not attend.
Under direct examination by Knowles, Kayla described what led up to Harmony’s death and how and what Adam did to her body to keep it hidden in the months that followed, which included using lime to help in the decomposition; freezing her in a cooler at a downtown restaurant where he worked; thawing her in a bathtub; dismembering her with a handsaw. Adam, she said, also discussed putting her pieces in a blender to make deposing of the remains easier.
The stepmom frequently sniffled and wiped her eyes as she recalled what happened on Dec. 7, 2019, the day the state says Harmony died in the back seat of the Chrysler Sebring the family was living in.
Harmony had been potty trained prior to the family being forced to live in their car after being evicted the day before Thanksgiving 2019 from their 77 Gilford St. home.
But the frequency of Harmony peeing and pooping her pants increased once the family was evicted on Nov. 27, 2019.
“She was peeing in the car in the seat where she was sitting in but she wouldn’t tell us she needed to go the bathroom. She also was pooping a lot. At least every day,” Kayla said.
Adam would get angrier with each accident.
“He would smack her,” Kayla said. “He would smack her in the face, on her leg or on the hand.” Kayla didn’t watch him hit Harmony but she said she knew the hits stung or hurt because she could hear the strikes and hear Harmony crying.
The abuse was constant.
“She started getting black eyes and bruising on her face and legs,” Kayla said. They would cover Harmony with a comforter whenever anyone came round the car, to hide the 5-year-old’s injuries.
Kayla said on Dec. 7, 2019, Adam began punching Harmony in the head when they first woke up that morning and he realized that Harmony once again had a bathroom accident. He hit her again shortly after 7 a.m., outside a downtown methadone clinic where they went for treatment.
Adam, she said, came out of the clinic, smelled urine and realized Harmony had peed her pants again, and he repeatedly punched her in the face. Kayla asked to go to Burger King for breakfast and en route, whenever Adam had a red light, he would turn and continue to beat Harmony.
“There were a couple of red lights and he would go over between the passenger seat and he was punching her repetitively in the head,” Kayla testified. Harmony began making a weird noise.
“I can’t even describe it,” Kayla said. “It was like a moaning kind of noise but crying.”
Kayla said she tried to help Harmony and put her hand up to stop Adam but “he gave me this look that was like evil. It was crazy. I couldn’t stop him from hitting her.” She said it was one of the first times he looked at her that way and not the last time.
When they arrived at Burger King, the punches stopped. “He said he thinks he really hurt her,” Kayla said.
Adam ordered food in the drive-thru and then drove back to the parking lot at Colonial Village, where the family parked and lived out of their car. There, Adam and Kayla got high on heroin and crack cocaine for 15 to 20 minutes. They didn’t check on Harmony. Kayla said she didn’t because she “was scared.”
After, they drove out of the parking lot and the car broke down at the intersection of Webster and Elm streets. As they were removing their belongings from the car, she realized Harmony had passed away when Adam tried to wake her up and she didn’t move.
Kayla, in testifying, took a deep breath and then said, Adam got a duffel bag out of the trunk and “folded Harmony and put her in the duffel bag.” At that point, Kayla grabbed a tissue and covered her face with it.
She continued testifying saying Harmony’s face “was all black and blue and her face was puffy.”
They walked back to Colonial Village where Adam put the duffel bag in a snowbank near a garbage dumpster so their friend, Anthony Bodero, who lived there, wouldn’t see it. Bodero drove them back to the intersection so they could get their belongings out of the car which they ultimately abandoned. Bodero let them sleep in his car for the weekend and then they went to live with her mother.
At her mother’s house, Adam first put the duffel bag with Harmony’s body in the trash but then transferred it to a red and white cooler that was in a common hallway.
“He really pushed it into the cooler so it would fit,” Kayla said. Harmony’s body remained there for about two weeks until the end of December when the family moved into a room at the Families in Transition family shelter on Lake Avenue.
Sighing deeply, she said at the shelter Adam removed a ceiling vent and put the Duffel bag up in the ceiling. It was the room where they all slept on the floor on mattresses. They stayed there for about 1 ½ months.
As time passed, Kayla said “you could smell a horrible smell coming through the vent.”
Adam, she said, took Harmony’s body down from the ceiling and brought the bag to the bathroom.
“Adam said there was blood up in the ceiling and fluid,” Kayla said.
Adam, she said, put Harmony in garbage bags and then “squished her into a bag.” Knowles showed the jury a CMC tote bag which Kayla said was identical to the CMC diaper bag.
Adam then put the bag back in the ceiling and got rid of the duffel bag though Kayla said she didn’t know where he disposed of it, only that he wasn’t putting it in the trash at the shelter.
He was in the bathroom for several hours, she said, and he used ammonia to clean up afterwards. She said he told her he did that so he wouldn’t get in trouble and nobody could find anything.
While at the shelter, she said he began talking about getting rid of Harmony’s body. His plan, Kayla said, was to use lime, to help with the decomposition, and also to dismember Harmony.
Later, she said, Adam asked her to bring the CMC bag to the Portland Pie Company where he worked. With her two kids in the stroller, she took the bag to the restaurant. She said she did it because she was scared.
There, Adam put the bag in the walk-in freezer because, he told her, there wouldn’t be any fluids or leaking.
On Feb. 20, 2020, the family moved to an apartment on Union Street where Harmony’s remains were stored in the refrigerator. They began discussing dismembering her.
“He just wanted to put her in pieces to get rid of her,” Kayla said. Adam told her he wanted to use a handsaw and a blender. “He said it (the blender) would be good to use to help get rid of Harmony,” Kayla testified.
At the Union Street apartment, she said Adam placed Harmony’s body in the bathtub to “dethaw her body.”
She saw a bag of lime in the bathroom and saw Adam trying to remove Harmony’s clothes.
Harmony, she said, was still “folded together the way she was left in the bag when he took her out of the car. She just looked like she had barely any skin – just a layer of skin and bone. She was all bruised up.”
Adam was running the shower with the hot water pouring over the child’s body and also cutting off her clothes with scissors. He told her to help and she did because she was scared. She went to cut off Harmony’s clothes and Adam put the body in the bag with lime. She left the bathroom to check on the kids and because “I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t want to see anything.”
Adam remained in the bathroom for several hours where Kayla said she saw garbage bags and a bag of lime. She said he put lime in the garbage bags as well as the CMC bag. She didn’t see him put Harmony in the CMC bag – he closed the door to the bathroom – but later saw him put the CMC bag back in the freezer.
In early March, Kayla said Adam had a friend rent a U-Haul van for him and rent rooms at the EconoLodge. Kayla said Adam didn’t say anything when he left from the hotel in the middle of the night, taking the CMC bag with him but she said she knew that he was getting rid of the body because he had told her that. He drove the U-Haul south to Boston. When he returned, he no longer had the CMC bag.
He didn’t tell her where he was bringing the body because if the “cops got involved I wouldn’t know where she is, that he would only know.”
Knowles asked her where is Harmony’s body. “I don’t know,” she replied.
Kayla left Adam, taking the kids with her, on March 17, 2021, when she said he beat her, giving her two black eyes. A poster board with a photo of her in that condition was displayed in Knowle’s opening and again on Friday.
Adam suspected her of informing on him but she said she wasn’t. He began regularly abusing her and finally she decided to tell him she was cooperating with police even though she wasn’t, believing the beatings would end. They didn’t.
He also was destroying and breaking things in the house because, Kayla said, he thought there were cameras and microphones in the house.
He told her if she talked about Harmony’s murder he would have his uncle kill her and cut her into pieces so no one would find her.
In the afternoon, Public Defender Caroline Smith began cross-examining Kayla. Much of the cross-examination focused on lies she told police and the Grand Jury investigating Harmony’s disappearance. Authorities were unaware the 5-year-old had gone missing in December 2019 until her mother, Crystal Sorey, told the state Division of Children, Youth and Families, in late 2021 that she hadn’t seen her daughter for months. A Massachusetts judge granted Adam custody in February 2019 while Sorey was in rehab.
Kayla, under Smith’s questioning, agreed that she had lied to police and had told more than 20 lies to the Grand Jury. Kayla was convicted on two counts of perjury for telling the Grand Jury that Adam dropped her off at work at Dunkin’ Donuts on Nov. 30, 2019.
Prosecutors had her work records, however, and knew that Kayla had been fired from her job for stealing from the register.
Smith, in her questioning, focused on all the other lies Kayla told the grand jury, attempting to undermine her credibility. Among those lies were:
- She said the last time she saw Harmony was two days after Thanksgiving 2019 when Adam dropped her off at work and he took Harmony to her mother in Massachusetts. That was a lie she agreed with Adam to tell authorities;
- She told them she figured he gave Harmony to her mom because Crystal had a place. She said that when she knew Harmony died in the car;
- When a prosecutor asked if there was a good possibility Harmony wasn’t around anymore, Kayla said yes but didn’t tell the grand jury she was present when she died.
The cross-examination ended early when Kayla, putting her closed hands to her eyes, said she had a migraine.
The trial will resume on Monday at 9 a.m.