Step-mom of missing Harmony Montgomery pleads not-guilty to spending $2,450 in food stamps designated for missing child

Sign Up For Our FREE Daily eNews!

FOM 2021 0581
Kayla Montgomery appeared in court on Jan. 6, 2022. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

MANCHESTER, NH – Kayla Montgomery, 31, step-mother to a missing 7-year-old Manchester girl, was arrested Wednesday for welfare fraud accusing her of obtaining $2,450 in food stamps for the child when she wasn’t living with the family.

Kayla Montgomery, 31, of 177 Lake Ave., on Thursday in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District entered a not guilty plea to the class A felony charge.

According to court documents, Montgomery filed for food stamp benefits for Harmony Montgomery, then 4, when her husband Adam Montgomery, also 31, obtained full custody of his daughter on Feb. 22, 2019.

However, the child went missing in November 2019 and Montgomery continued to collect food stamps for Harmony for an additional 19 months, from Dec. 2019 through June 2021.  The family’s monthly food stamps allotment increased by $129 per month beginning March 1, 2019 when Harmony was added.  The amount did not include additional COVID supplemental benefits.

Montgomery acknowledged to New Hampshire Division of Health and Human Services, Division of Family Assistance, personnel that Harmony continued to be on the account even though she wasn’t living with the family but said she tried to remove her from her but was unsuccessful.  According to case management documents obtained by police, she did not make any request or attempt to remove Harmony from her household 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 that the day after Thanksgiving 2019 Adam dropped her off at work and said he was going to bring Harmony to her mother, Crystal Sorey, 31, in Devens, Mass. She said she hasn’t seen Harmony since.

Adam Montgomery was arraigned Wednesday in Hillsborough County Superior Court on charges of second-degree assault, a felony, and three misdemeanors, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one charge of interference with custody.  He waived arraignment and is being held in jail on preventive detention.

Harmony Montgomery hasn’t been seen since November 2019 when she was 5-years-old.  Her father is accused of blackening her eye in July 2019. 

“I bashed her around this house,” Kevin Montgomery, Adam’s uncle, told police his nephew said in explaining the child’s injury.  Adam, the uncle told police, said he left the 5-year-old in charge of her infant brother while Adam was in the bathroom.  The younger brother started crying and, Adam told Kevin, that he returned and found Harmony holding her hand over the baby’s mouth to stop him from crying.  Kevin said Adam told him he struck Harmony in the face, causing the black eye.

Kevin Montgomery also described his nephew as using abusive discipline on the then 5-year-old child including spanking Harmony hard on the butt; forcing her to stand in the corner for hours and ordering her to scrub a toilet with her toothbrush.

Police didn’t learn the child 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, who had custody of Harmony, but couldn’t find him.

On Dec. 27, 2021, the state Division of Children, Youth and Families notified police they couldn’t find Harmony.  Police then opened an investigation into her whereabouts, learning she hadn’t been seen since October/November 2019.   

Sorey told police she lost custody of Harmony in July 2019 in part because she had a substance abuse issue.  Adam Montgomery also had drug problems, she said.

Since then, Sorey said she regained sobriety and tried throughout 2021 to locate Montgomery and Harmony.  She said he and Kayla blocked all communication – phone numbers and social media – from her.  Sorey tried to locate her daughter over the years by contacting schools and driving by addresses associated with Montgomery but couldn’t find her.

She said the last time she saw Harmony was in a Facetime video call with Montgomery around Easter 2019.   Harmony, she said, seemed frightened.

Screen Shot 2015 12 09 at 9.51.03 AM
Kayla Montgomery was living at Family in Transition’s Family Place Resource Center and Shelter on Lake Ave. FILE PHOTO

In court Thursday, Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Jesse O’Neill asked that Kayla Montgomery be held on $5,000 cash bail.  He argued that she was a flight risk given that the charge is a felony and carries a maximum sentence of 7 ½ to 15 years upon conviction.

Defense attorney Paul Garrity asked Judge Diane Nicolosi to release his client on personal recognizance bail.  He said that in most cases that is what is set on a single charge of welfare fraud.  He said Montgomery is the mother of three young children, who are now with her mother; that she is employed full-time and was living at 177 Lake Ave., a facility operated by Families in Transition.

Montgomery’s children had to live with her for her to reside at the FIT facility.  He said if released on personal recognizance bail, Montgomery would live with her mother at 258 Dubuque St.  

The prosecutor detailed Montgomery’s criminal record, which consisted of misdemeanor convictions dating from 2012 to 2015 prior to when she had children.   They consisted of possession of a prescription drug, willful concealment, false report to law enforcement and a probation violation.

The judge asked O’Neill if he would agree with Garrity that normally a welfare fraud charge would result in a defendant being granted personal recognizance bail.  O’Neill said he would but that this is a case where the welfare fraud charge “involves a child who is now missing.”

Later in the day, Nicolosi set bail at $5,000 cash or surety. She is to have no contact with Adam Montgomery.

Authorities, including 35 Manchester police detectives, continue to search for Harmony.

A reward for information leading to the whereabouts of Harmony has now reached $60,000.

Among the contributors to the reward are the U.S. Marshals Service, $10,000; Manchester Crimeline, $2,500; Manchester businessmen Richard Anagnost and Arthur Sullivan, $10,000 each, and Joseph Zagarella, $5,000;   Amherst businessman Peter Napoli, $10,000; two anonymous Massachusetts’ businessmen, $10,500; Seabrook businessman Jeff Comeau, $1,000; an anonymous donation of $1,000 from a Nevada businessman.

Anyone who has information regarding Harmony Montgomery’s whereabouts is asked to call the Manchester Police Department’s dedicated tip line at 603-203-6060. This tip line is manned 24/7 by a detective and can receive both calls and texts.


Below: Court documents regarding Kayla Montgomery:

About this Author

Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.