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Communities Can Protect the Vulnerable

Published Thursday Feb 3, 2022

Author Pat Grossmith, Granite State News Collaborative

Communities Can Protect the Vulnerable

With a search for 7-year-old Harmony Montgomery ongoing for weeks now, one question being asked is, "How does a child go missing for more than two years and neither police nor child protection services are aware?"

“The more provocative question would be who noticed the child when she wasn’t missing?” said Moira O’Neill, director of the NH Office of the Child Advocate, overseer of the state Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). O'Neill says the agency receives about 20,000 reports of suspected child abuse and neglect, about 8,000 of which are investigated.

O’Neill adds it’s too easy to blame DCYF, and asks, “How can a state be responsible if they don’t know about the child?” 

The mother of Harmony, who had last seen the child in a Facetime chat on Easter 2019, claims she reported her daughter missing to the agency during that time to no avail.  

Harmony’s father, Adam Montgomery, 31, and stepmother, Kayla Montgomery, also 31, the two people who last saw the child, were arrested two weeks ago. He is charged with second-degree assault, accused of blackening Harmony’s eye in July 2019, child endangerment and interfering with child custody. Kayla is charged with theft by deception and welfare fraud for allegedly obtaining food stamps for Harmony in her absence.

Police last saw Harmony in September 2019, while DCYF caseworkers last saw her in October 2019, according to police.

In November 2021, police searched for Harmony after her mother, Crystal Sorey, 31, of Devens, Mass., wrote to Mayor Joyce Craig begging for help finding her. 

Police couldn’t locate Harmony or her father, Adam Montgomery, who had gained full custody of the child in Lawrence, Mass., in February 2019, according to court documents. They referred the case to DCYF. And in December, that agency reported that they couldn’t find Harmony either, resulting in a widespread missing child investigation involving 35 detectives.

Initially, Sorey said she hadn’t seen her daughter in six months but later told police she hadn’t seen her since she had a Facetime chat with her in more than two years prior. Montgomery had cut off communication with her and other family members. 

Adam Montgomery told police the day after Thanksgiving he dropped Harmony off with her mother; Kayla Montgomery said that day he told her he was bringing Harmony to her mother and that she hasn’t seen the her since.

New Hampshire has no tracking system for children who aren’t in school. Harmony was enrolled  in Haverhill at one time, but when the family moved to New Hampshire, she was never registered. 

At a press conference Wednesday, Manchester police Chief Allen Aldenberg said it is only natural for people or the family to blame someone or DCYF. And while O’Neill said that’s too easy, the girl’s mother faults child protection services in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  

It could be, O’Neill said, that once Harmony was back with her father, child protective services closed the case and NH would not have been asked to check in on Harmony, nor recognize she had vanished.

That’s why it’s so important for people who regularly see children – neighbors, friends of the family, even strangers living in close proximity – to be vigilant.

Pictured: Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg, speaks with the media during a Jan. 12, 2022 news conference with an update on the reward being offered for information, which has grown to $104,000. Also pictured, Assistant Chief Steve Mangone. Photo/MPD

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information, visit 

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