MANCHESTER, N.H. - A hearing was held on Friday morning in the case involving the father of Harmony Montgomery, a missing New Hampshire girl who vanished in 2019 at age 5 but was not reported missing until late last year.
Father Adam Montgomery was arrested in January on a second-degree assault charge, as well as charges of interfering with custody and child endangerment. Police said he had legal custody of Harmony and accused him of "purposely violating a duty of care, protection or support" by failing to know where she has been since late 2019 — the last reported sighting of the young girl.
A dispositional conference was held Friday in Manchester. During such a hearing, the court hears the status of negotiations between the parties, whether the prosecution has turned over certain information — called "discovery" — to the defense, and whether there are any issues that will likely be litigated prior to trial, according to New Hampshire-based Reis & O’Keefe, PLLC.
Adam Montgomery was not in the courtroom for Friday's hearing, WMUR-TV reported. Both sides need additional time to review evidence in the case, which continues to build over time, according to the local news outlet.
Given that, a plea offer has also not been prepared, prosecutors said.
"There is some discovery, quite a bit of discovery, still outstanding as it’s literally being generated on a daily basis, and for the same reason, the state at this point has not made a plea offer just because as the investigation continues, we don’t want to make a plea offer without a full knowledge of what this investigation may reveal," Prosecutor Jesse O'Neill told the judge.
Montgomery, 31, had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf by his lawyer in January. He has been jailed without bail.
Prosecutors said indictments against Adam Montgomery are scheduled to be presented before a grand jury in a couple of weeks. A trial date has not been set.
Harmony’s mother, who lives in Massachusetts, had called Manchester police in November to say she hadn’t seen her daughter in a while. She originally told officers she hadn’t seen her in over six months, but then said it had been since Easter 2019 when she video chatted with the father and Harmony, according to a police affidavit.
Crystal Sorey, the mother of Harmony Montgomery, is embraced during a vigil held for Harmony Montgomery, who has not been seen since 2019, in Manchester, NH on Feb. 12, 2022. (Photo by Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Harmony Montgomery timeline
In December 2021, police in Manchester shared on Facebook they’d received a report that a 7-year-old girl named Harmony Montgomery had not been seen since late 2019.
Police asked for the public’s help locating the child, saying "the circumstances surrounding this prolonged absence are very concerning."
Police said they first became aware of the case when they received a call from the girl’s mother, Crystal Sorey, who lives in Massachusetts, in November 2021. She had been trying to locate her daughter for months but said she had been blocked by her ex-husband from contacting her.
Sorey had to surrender Harmony to the state in the summer of 2018, in part to a substance abuse issue. After that, the girl’s father, Adam Montgomery, secured sole custody in February 2019 and moved her to New Hampshire, FOX News reported.
Sorey originally told officers in November 2021 that she hadn’t seen Harmony in over six months, but then said it had been since Easter 2019, when she video chatted with the father and Harmony, according to a police affidavit.
Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg determined Harmony was last seen by police at a home in the city in October 2019. Police responded to a service call there and had no reason to return to the address after that.
Police said in December 2021 they had made contact with Adam Montgomery and other family members to speak about Harmony. An affidavit said police told the father Harmony "had not been physically observed in over two years and that we had concern for whether or not she was still alive."
In early January 2022, Adam Montgomery and Harmony’s stepmother were arrested, separately, on charges related to her well-being.
Police are still investigating the circumstances of the girl’s disappearance and actively looking for her.
FILE - A home on Gilford Street in Manchester, NH, pictured on Jan. 4, 2022, where she was previously seen with her father, Adam Montgomery. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Kayla Montgomery: Harmony’s stepmother
Harmony Montgomery’s stepmother, Kayla Montgomery, is also facing charges. She was arrested on Jan. 5, 2022, on a charge of welfare fraud for collecting food stamps in the girl’s name — to which she pleaded not guilty.
Police said between December 2019 and June 2021, Kayla Montgomery obtained over $1,500 in food stamps benefits by failing to remove Harmony from the family’s state assistance account, despite the fact that Harmony was no longer living with Kayla and Adam Montgomery.
Prosecutors later announced a plan to drop the welfare fraud charge against Kayla and replace it with nine other charges, including felony theft, according to court documents released on Jan. 11. The change was made based on new information provided by the state Department of Health and Human Services about her, according to the attorney general's office.
A judge also agreed to the prosecution's request for $5,000 bail.
Earlier, in an interview with police on New Year's Eve, Kayla — who shares three children with her husband, ages 4, 2 and 1 — said she last saw Harmony in November or December 2019. She said her husband was driving Harmony to the child's mother in Massachusetts. She said she believed Harmony had been returned to the mother and never saw or heard about Harmony after that day, according to the police document.
Kayla also told police she hadn’t seen Adam since October and had not spoken to him since November.
By the end of 2021, police said they had made contact with Adam Montgomery and other family members. Montgomery was found sleeping in a vehicle with a girlfriend in Manchester. He said initially that Harmony was fine and he had seen her recently, but then later said he hadn’t seen her since her mother picked her up in Manchester around Thanksgiving 2019.
Uncle of Harmony Montgomery reported abuse
In an interview with police, Harmony’s great uncle Kevin Montgomery told officers he saw her with a black eye in July 2019. He said Adam Montgomery told him he hit her after he had seen his daughter holding her hand over her younger brother’s mouth to stop him from crying, according to the police documents.
Kevin Montgomery said he also told police about a time he recalled Harmony being forced to stand in the corner for hours and Adam Montgomery ordering Harmony to scrub the toilet with her toothbrush, according to FOX 13 Tampa.
"Family and children services, they failed her from the beginning. I just, I don't get it. I mean, the evidence was just so much," Kevin Montgomery said.
Police first became aware Harmony might be missing when they took her mother’s call in November. Police said officers contacted child protective services to find addresses for Montgomery, but were unsuccessful.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. Megan Ziegler and the Associated Press contributed.