The stepmother of Harmony Montgomery has now been charged in connection with the ongoing saga to find the 7-year-old who was last seen in New Hampshire in 2019.
Kayla Montgomery, 31, was arrested Wednesday on one count of welfare fraud after allegedly continuing to collect food-stamp benefits for Harmony. The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office said that between Dec. 2019 and June 2021, Montgomery obtained more than $1,500 in food-stamp benefits on Harmony’s behalf—even though the child was no longer living with her and her husband, Adam.
During a Thursday bond hearing, Montgomery pleaded not guilty before a judge ultimately ordered $5,000 bail. Prosecutors argued for that bail amount, calling her a flight risk, while her defense team said she doesn’t have the funds to secure that bond. The bail order also states that Montgomery cannot have any contact with her husband.
While Montgomery is not the biological mother of Harmony, the charges against the Manchester, New Hampshire, resident are just the latest against the adults closest to the child, who was last physically seen in Oct. 2019.
Adam Montgomery, 31, was booked Tuesday evening on an array of charges, including felony second-degree assault in connection with 2019 conduct against Harmony. He was also charged with one misdemeanor charge of interference with custody, and two misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child pertaining to his daughter.
In an arrest affidavit, investigators outlined a series of disturbing allegations against Adam, claiming he admitted to his uncle that he gave Harmony a black eye in 2019—just months after child-protective services granted him custody of the then 5-year-old.
“I bashed her around the house,” Adam Montgomery allegedly told his uncle, Kevin, after stating he left his daughter “in charge of watching her infant brother while Adam was in the bathroom” and later found the infant crying.
Kevin Montgomery previously described witnessing the aftermath of abuse—including a black eye—to The Daily Beast. That abuse, he told investigators, included Harmony being spanked “hard on the butt,” being forced “to stand in the corner for hours,” and being ordered, “to scrub the toilet with her toothbrush.”
The affidavit for Adam Montgomery also provided new details into the months leading up to Harmony’s disappearance, who police say was last seen at a Manchester home after officers answered a call in Oct. 2019.
On Nov. 18, Harmony's mother, Crystal Sorey, called the Manchester Police Department to report her daughter “was missing and that she hadn’t seen [her] in over six months.” The call prompted authorities to launch a search for her, which included talking to several of Harmony’s family members—including Kayla Montgomery.
In a New Year’s Eve conversation, Kayla Montgomery said the last time she physically saw Harmony was in November or December of 2019 before heading into work. At that time, Adam Montgomery allegedly told his wife “he was driving [Harmony] back to Crystal,” who was living in Massachusetts.
“Kayla claimed she never saw, or heard about [Harmony] after that day,” the affidavit states, noting she said she had not seen her husband since Oct. 2021. “Kayla admitted that she had seen [Harmony] with a black eye in the past; however, she explained that Adam told her it was caused by one of their other children striking [Harmony] with a toy.”
In an arrest affidavit, obtained by The Daily Beast, authorities say that even though Kayla Montgomery believed Harmony had been at her mother’s house since 2019, she continued to obtain and spend food-stamp benefits intended for the child.
Authorities say she first added Harmony to the account in Feb. 2019, when her husband was granted full custody of the child.
“She is 4 years old and permanently blind in one eye, she was born like that,” Kayla wrote in an attempt to add Harmony to her account, which included three children she shared with Adam.
Authorities say Kayla Montgomery was granted an extra $129 a month for Harmony—which she continued to receive for 19 months before ultimately reverting the account to remove her step-daughter.
Shortly after Kayla Montgomery’s Dec. 31 conversation with authorities, a “missing child” alert was issued and police launched an investigation to find the girl, who may be wearing glasses and is blind in her right eye.
In the days since opening the case, police have searched the home Montgomery once lived in with her family, touted a 24-hour tip line, acquired assistance from the FBI, and announced a $60,000 reward for information about Harmony’s whereabouts.
Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg insisted on Monday the Harmony Montgomery case was still being investigated as a missing persons matter.
“I am in rescue mode right now. This is not a recovery. All efforts are focused on that Harmony is alive… until somebody points to me that proves that she is not. We have to operate under the assumption that she is alive,” Aldenberg said. “Help us find this little girl. Someone knows something. Do what is right and call in. I cannot emphasize this enough. Someone out there knows something.”