MANCHESTER, NH – The stepmother of Harmony Montgomery, missing for more than two years, is facing new charges.
Kayla Montgomery, 31, whose 7-year-old stepdaughter is the subject of a full-scale missing child investigation, is now charged with a class A felony of theft by deception and two misdemeanor counts of acts prohibited for welfare fraud, according to court documents.
She was arrested last week at a Lake Avenue family shelter where she was staying with her three children. She was charged with felony welfare fraud charge but that count is being nol-prossed, O’Neill said.
The latest felony charge is a class A felony that 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.
Montgomery is estranged from her husband, Adam Montgomery, also 31, who is Harmony’s father. He obtained custody of his daughter on Feb. 22, 2019, according to Lawrence, Mass. Juvenile Court.
On that date, Kayla Montgomery added Harmony to her NH-DHHS, New Division of Family Assistance, account.
Montgomery continued to collect food stamps for the child from Dec. 2019 through June 2021, even though she was missing, according to court records.
Montgomery acknowledged to NH-DHHS personnel Harmony continued to be on the account even though she wasn’t living with the family but said she tried to remove her but was unsuccessful. Authorities said she did not request or attempt to remove Harmony from the account until June 2, 2021.
She and Adam Montgomery have four children, three in common – ages 1, 2 and 4 – and Harmony.
Kayla told detectives she believed Adam brought Harmony to her mother, Crystal Sorey, 31, in Devens, Mass., the day after Thanksgiving 2019.
She said she hasn’t seen Harmony since.
Adam Montgomery is in jail, charged with second-degree assault and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one charge of interference with custody. He is accused of hitting Harmony in July 2019, when she was 5-years-old, blackening her eye.
The last time police saw Harmony was on Sept. 12, 2019, when they were called to the 77 Gilford St. home for a dispute among family members including Kayla and Adam, Adam’s uncle Kevin Montgomery and Adam’s grandmother Helen Montgomery.
His uncle and grandmother were attempting to retrieve personal items from the home. Adam told police he and his family had paid rent to Helen for several months while she was living in Florida recovering from heart surgery.
Kevin Montgomery told the officer Adam and his family had taken over the house since the grandmother went to Florida. Originally, they lived only upstairs but took over the rest of the home. He said Adam and his family were to be evicted at the end of the month.
Officer Travis J. Koeppel, in his report, said there was clutter in every room consisting of clothing and empty food containers. Adam Montgomery told him although the power had been turned off for several months due to nonpayment, he had a portable generator in the driveway which powers the refrigerator. The home had running water as well.
Koeppel noted there was food in the cupboards and refrigerator.
He also said that the three children (the Montgomerys’ youngest child wasn’t born yet) appeared “to be clean and fed. Their clothing was appropriate for the current conditions. Although this area was highly disheveled, it did not appear unsafe.”
The case, however, was referred to the New Hampshire Department of Children, Youth and Families. DCYF caseworkers last saw Harmony in October 2019, according to police.
Police didn’t learn Harmony was missing until November 2021 when Sorey called them to say she hadn’t seen her daughter in more than six months. Manchester police checked several addresses they had for Adam Montgomery, but couldn’t find him or the child. They then notified DCYF of the situation
On Dec. 27, 2021, DCFY notified police they couldn’t find Harmony either. Police then opened a missing child investigation.
For several days, police along with a team of investigators from the FBI, searched 77 Gilford St., the last address where Adam and Harmony Montgomery were known to live. That search ended Monday without Harmony being found.
In the latest court filings, Detective Davenport says that on five occasions Mongomery listed Harmony as being a household member – when she wasn’t – in filing for continued food stamp benefits and when adding her newborn to the account.
On five other occasions, when applying for housing benefits, she listed only two adults – she and Adam – and their two children. Later, between Feb. 20, 2021, and May 13, 2021, after the couple separated, she listed only herself and three children. It wasn’t until June 2, 2021, that she told a DHHS caseworker Harmony had moved back with her mother and to remove her from the case.
Montgomery is being held on $5,000 cash bail. An arraignment on the new charges and a bail hearing is set for Thursday morning.
Adam Montgomery is being held in preventive detention, that is without bail.
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