CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Harmony Montgomery’s father killed the 5-year-old girl in December 2019 by repeatedly striking her in the head with a closed fist, authorities said Monday as they announced charges in a case that came to light when her mother reported she hadn’t seen her in over two years.
Adam Montgomery, 32, is charged with second-degree murder, falsifying physical evidence and abuse of a corpse between December 2019 and March 2020, officials said at a news conference in Manchester, where Harmony lived with her father and stepmother.
He also is charged with tampering with a witness by attempting to cause his wife to provide false testimony. He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Manchester.
Authorities did not say whether the girl’s body had been found or provide details on what they believe Montgomery did with it. An attorney for Adam Montgomery did not immediately comment.
Police first became aware that Harmony — whose case unleashed public grief and anger as it highlighted cracks in the child welfare system — might be missing when they received a call from her mother, Crystal Sorey, in November 2021. She had been trying to locate the girl for months, police said.
Sorey said she last saw her daughter during a phone video conversation around Easter 2019.
“I am in shock at this point, it hasn’t really hit me yet,” Sorey said in a text message Monday to The Associated Press after news of the charges against Montgomery.
“Nobody wanted to listen to me, this could’ve all been avoided, but now we’re faced with the biggest battle my family will ever face!” she wrote.
State Attorney General John Formella said at the news conference that he wanted to extend “deepest sympathies” to those who knew and loved Harmony.
“We understand that today’s news, while significant for purposes of this investigation, is yet another difficult moment for those who loved Harmony and those who have followed this case,” Formella said.
Authorities said Aug. 11 that the case had become a homicide investigation. They said they believed Harmony was killed in Manchester, the state’s largest city, in early December 2019.
Police said they contacted Adam Montgomery, who had custody of Harmony, and other family members by the end of December 2021. According to court documents, police told him that Harmony had not been seen in more than two years and there was concern over whether she was still alive.
Harmony’s father and stepmother, who have since pleaded not guilty to charges related to her well-being, told police that Adam brought Harmony to be with Sorey in Massachusetts around Thanksgiving 2019.
Adam Montgomery was in court last month as his lawyers argued that some of the statements he made to police should be suppressed.
They said he told police multiple times that “I’ve got nothing else to say” when questioned further about his daughter’s whereabouts and said he didn’t want to talk to them, yet police kept asking him questions.
He faces a trial next month in an unrelated case on stolen weapons charges.
Bail for Kayla Montgomery was recently revoked after she didn’t appear at a hearing on charges against her, including that she lied to state health officials about having Harmony Montgomery in her care.
Harmony was born in Massachusetts in 2014. Her parents were unmarried, were no longer together and had a history of substance use, according to a report this year by the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate. Adam Montgomery was in prison when she was born.
She was blind in one eye and had behavioral needs, and went into the custody of child protective services in Massachusetts when she was 2 months old. She was moved between the homes of her mother and her foster parents multiple times, the report said, causing “significant trauma and harm.”
Adam Montgomery was awarded custody of Harmony in February 2019.
Harmony’s case led to vigils and the creation of social media sites. Police offered cash rewards for information and dedicated a 24-hour tip line to the case.
“I ask that in memory of Harmony that we all make every effort to do something nice for a child today,” Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg said at the news conference. He added, “Just take a few moments out of your day to say something nice to a child, give him or her a hug, some special words of encouragement.”