Kayla Montgomery ‘knows what we are going to learn in the investigation,’ prosecutor says of search for Harmony Montgomery

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Kayla Montgomery is escorted into court for an arraignment and bail hearing scheduled in State of NH vs. Kayla Montgomery. Photo/Jessica Rinaldi, Globe Staff

MANCHESTER, NH – Investigators searching for Harmony Montgomery, the 7-year-old who hasn’t been seen in more than two years, are now focusing on a time between Nov. 28 and Dec. 10, 2019, when Adam and Kayla Montgomery and their children were living out of a car.

New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Jesse O’Neill and Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg spoke briefly Monday after an arraignment and bail hearing for Kayla Montgomery, 31, Harmony’s stepmom, in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District.

O’Neill said the new time frame is based on different reports received by Manchester police and other agencies working with them.  Investigators, he said, have identified two vehicles – a dark blue 2006 Audi S4 and a silver 2010 Chrysler Sebring – as being used by the family.

Later in the day, authorities issued a news release saying that after Adam and Kayla Montgomery, along with Harmony and their two common children, were evicted from 77 Gilford St. in Manchester on Nov. 27, 2019, multiple individuals saw Harmony with her father and stepmother in the following days.

However, by Dec. 6-10, 2019, Harmony was no longer with Adam and Kayla, only their two common children were with them.

“This information leads police to believe that it was sometime during this window of approximately Nov. 28-Dec. 10, 2019, that Harmony disappeared,” according to the news release.

Witnesses told police during that time the family was homeless and living out of cars, possibly in the city’s North End.

Police released stock photos of the cars as a reference but said the actual condition of the cars in 2019 were worse than those depicted.  The Sebring’s rear license place was also “askew.”

O’Neill said investigators are hoping releasing the information about the cars will prod people to think back to that time and whether they saw those vehicles, or to look at pictures on their phones during that time frame to see if they have any information.

Aldenberg said he is “a little discouraged” about the now four-week-long investigation but said police are committed to finding Harmony and still working 24/7.

“Nobody’s hanging his head,” he said.  “Nobody’s kicking the can down the road.  We are committed to finding Harmony.”

Above: Manchester Police released images of cars they say Adam and Kayla Montgomery were using during the time Harmony was with them in 2019, a dark blue 2006 Audi S4, left, and a silver 2010 Chrysler Sebring.


Kayla and Adam Montgomery remain jailed

Kayla Montgomery is currently being held on $5,000 cash bail, an amount her attorney Paul Garrity said was essentially preventive detention, that is being held without bail because she doesn’t have the means to pay it.

Adam Montgomery, 31, remains jailed in preventive detention on charges accusing him of assaulting Harmony and blackening her eye, child endangerment and interference with child custody.

Kayla Montgomery is charged with felony theft by deception and welfare fraud for allegedly obtaining benefits for the little girl when she wasn’t living with her and her father.  Previous charges, which included a class B felony theft charge, were dropped.

The class A felony charge, on conviction, carries a sentence of from 7 ½ to 15 years in prison.  Each misdemeanor carries a sentence of up to a year in jail.

O’Neill argued that the cash bail still was necessary because the new charges make her a heightened risk of flight.

He also argued that the cash bail also is needed because of the unusual nature of the case: the search for a missing child that Montgomery claimed was a member of her household when the child was unaccountable.

“She knows what we are going to learn in the investigation,” he said.

Kayla Montgomery, left, looks back at her attorney Paul Garrity as she is escorted out of court Jan. 24, 2022, following an arraignment and bail hearing scheduled in State of NH vs. Kayla Montgomery. Photo/Jessica Rinaldi, Globe Staff)

The charges against her, he said, cover a time when Harmony was “completely unaccounted for.”

He said it involved Montgomery and an “18-month lie to get welfare benefits for a child who disappeared.”  That, he said, “makes for a strong risk for flight.”

Judge Amy Messer, however, asked O’Neill if he had any facts concerning Kayla Montgomery related to the investigation that he could share with the court.

He said she told investigators that Adam Montgomery dropped Harmony off with her mother, Crystal Sorey, on Nov. 29, 2019 – the day after Thanksgiving – and that she hadn’t seen her since.

O’Neill said investigators know that isn’t true and there is no credible evidence that Harmony was with Sorey.

Garrity argued that Montgomery should be released on personal recognizance bail, what is typically set in theft and welfare fraud cases.    

He said Montgomery has a relatively minor criminal history.  

Garrity asked the court to order Montgomery released to the Cynthia Day Family Center For Women and Children, a drug rehab program in Nashua.

He said her three children, ages 4, 3, and 1 who are living with her mother in Manchester, will be able to visit her there although only two can stay overnight.

He explained that the center wants the Valley Street jail to transport Montgomery directly to the facility.  The reason for that, he said, is the possibility that an individual directly released from the jail could relapse before arriving at the center.

Later Monday afternoon, Messer issued an order saying bail is to remain at $5,000 cash/surety, an amount Garrity did not object to although he requested that it be converted to personal recognizance bail once Montgomery entered a treatment program.

The judge noted Montgomery has a limited criminal history, no history of failing to appear for any court appearance, and previously complied with court-ordered conditions of a deferred sentence.

Additionally, Messer wrote, the defense “notes she 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.”

She said Montgomery’s contacts in the state are significant: she is nearly a lifelong resident of New Hampshire – Garrity said she had lived here since she was 9 years old – and extended family members are here.

Messer said she is mindful of the serious nature of the state’s investigation regarding Harmony but the issue before the court is the risk of flight of the defendant based on the theft and welfare fraud charges.

“Taking into consideration the evidence and arguments presented, the Court does not find the State has met its burden to show by clear and convincing evidence that there are no conditions that the Court can set that will reasonably assure her appearance on the charges pending against her,” she said. 

Messer said bail will convert to personal recognizance once Montgomery enters and successfully completes the Cynthia Day program.  Other conditions include Montgomery must sign a release of information at the program allowing the state to monitor compliance and allow the program to immediately notify the state should she leave or be discharged for any reason; must check in daily by phone with Manchester police; must sign a waiver of extradition before her release; have no contact with Adam Montgomery, and not travel outside the state of New Hampshire.


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pat-grossmith

Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.