Testimony: Decisions in Harmony Montgomery case ‘contributed to murder, pain and heartache for our family’

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Johnathon and Blair Miller spoke Tuesday before a Massachusetts legislative committee concerning the formation of the Harmony Commission, named for Harmony Montgomery, who was allegedly murdered by her father. The Millers adopted Harmony’s brother Jamieson. Photo/Pat Grossmith

BOSTON, Mass. – The adoptive parents of Harmony Montgomery’s brother encouraged Bay State legislators to approve the formation of the Harmony Commission to study, examine and make recommendations regarding the welfare and best interest considerations for children so that another child does not die.

Blair and Johnathon Miller adopted Harmony’s brother Jamieson in November 2019, only days before his 5-year-old sister was allegedly murdered by her father, Adam Montgomery.  No one was aware of that until three years later, after a prolonged and intensive investigation that began when law enforcement became aware the child had been missing for two years.

Blair Miller, at a hearing Tuesday of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, told legislators that in enacting the legislation they had a “real chance to keep kids safe and ensure there is not another Harmony Montgomery who was ignored and left to fight for herself. She never had a chance. My husband and I are here today because we feel we need to be a voice for Harmony and our son Jamieson.”

The Millers both said that Jamieson and Harmony shared a powerful bond.

“Foster care parents and DCF (Department of Children and Families) workers told us Harmony was always there for her younger brother,” Blair Miller said.  “She was his safety net.  She was the older sister who would look out for Jamieson when they went to different foster homes, not really sure of their future.” 

The Millers brought a stuffed Elmo with them to the hearing.  Blair Miller said it was a gift Harmony gave Jamieson while they were in foster care. It was one of the few belongings he had when they adopted him.

The Millers, during the adoption process, asked DCY officials about Harmony and the ability to adopt her.  They were told she had been reunited with her father and was no longer a part of the DCF system in Massachusetts.

“We wanted to make it clear then that if we needed to adopt both that we certainly wanted to be considered,” Blair Miller said. “We were told Jamieson would be up for adoption alone.  We now know that while we were going through the beautiful adoption process with Jamieson, his sister was living what could only be described as a true nightmare.  Jamieson has always wanted to know what happened to Harmony.  My husband has made attempts to reach out to Harmony’s father and his wife.  Nothing was successful.”

He said they moved to Arlington, Va., (Blair Miller works for CMG Washington News Bureau in Washington, D.C.) but returned to Massachusetts to adopt Jamieson.

‘We came back to Massachusetts to adopt Jamieson on National Adoption Day in November 2019.  We now know that just days later when we were doing that, Harmony was being brutally beaten; she was being attacked and eventually killed,” he said.


Above: Blair and Johnathon Miller share their story on National Adoption Day 2019 in Boston.


He contended had Harmony and Jamieson been able to communicate or see each other there could have been opportunities to see how Harmony was living “to maybe hear her describe what school was like.  But, of course, none of this was her reality because Harmony didn’t have her voice.”

Blair Miller said moving forward with the commission would be “one big step in giving Harmony her voice.  Even more importantly, it will make sure there isn’t another Harmony Montgomery.  It will also make sure there isn’t another child ripped apart from a sibling.”

Johnathon Miller blamed decisions by the departments of child and family services in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire for the children being separated.

 “Those decisions both contributed to murder, pain and heartache for our family,” he said. “Their bond was unmistakable.  She often played the role as his protector. Their relationship was completely ripped apart by a decision of Massachusetts which was a systematic failure that has to change.  They handed Harmony over to her biological father without any regard to the relationship and bond Harmony and Jamieson had formed.  When we adopted Jamieson, as part of the adoption agreement, we were told and we excitedly agreed to continue their sibling relationship. “ 

The Millers tried to establish a relationship, reaching out to Harmony’s father and stepmother but had no luck.  

“We encountered roadblocks and obstacles at every corner,” Johnathon Miller said. “The heartbreaking fact is the courts, the lawyers and DCF never once considered…the significance of the sibling relationship.”

Caseworkers told them how shocked they were that Harmony literally was handed over to someone she barely knew because he was a blood relative.  Montgomery had been accused of attempted murder “yet it was the best placement for her.  That decision that day sealed her fate,” Johnathon Miller said.

 He said the day before the hearing Jamieson told him that Harmony was “my only hope until I found you, Daddy and Dada and my brothers and I became a Miller.”

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Blair Miller, left, and his husband Johnathon Miller, right, with Crystal Sorey, birth mother of their adopted son Jamison, who is the half-brother of Harmony Montgomery. Courtesy Photo

“It’s concerning that a 6-year-old can figure that out but the system that was put in place to protect these children cannot,” he said.

Jamieson, he said, is excelling on the swim team and in the running club at school.

“How is it that these two siblings have such two different outcomes and stories?” he said.   “Imagine if Harmony’s life and their relationship was valued.  She potentially would not have been murdered.”

Now, he said, they are left to answer their son’s difficult questions:   Why did someone hurt my sister?  Whey did no one protect her?  Can she see me from heaven? “These are questions that are incredibly difficult to answer but we have to answer because of the decisions made by DCF, the DCF lawyers and the juvenile court system in Massachusetts that were in charge of Harmony’s case,” Johnathon Miller said. “I kindly ask you to consider how important sibling visitation is and should be mandated so no other parent has to answer those difficult questions. Harmony and Jamieson’s relationship should be thriving today. Harmony is deceased and Jamieson is left to process how someone who should have protected her but instead murdered his sister.  We should all be outraged that this was allowed to happen. We recognize the grave errors that transpired in Harmony’s case and hope it will be used as a pivotal point to ensure that the child welfare system and juvenile welfare system always considers and prioritizes relationships for children in state custody.  That decision could mean the difference between life and death for a child in state custody.”

Adam Montgomery is charged with second-degree murder, falsifying physical evidence, abuse of a corpse and tampering with a witness or informant.

Authorities didn’t know of the child’s disappearance until late 2021 after her mother, Crystal Sorey, who had been in and out of recovery for addiction, reported she hadn’t seen her daughter since 2019. Police believe Montgomery murdered her in December 2019.

Montgomery denies killing his daughter and in August, when he was sentenced to 32 1/2 to 75 years in state prison on unrelated stolen gun charges, he told the judge he didn’t kill her and that he refutes “those offensive claims.”

His trial is set for late November but he has asked for a continuance since one of his attorneys has moved on to another job.

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Blair and Johnathon Miller with their three sons. Courtesy Photo

 

About this Author

Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.