The state of New Hampshire has released a report on the disappearance of 7-year-old Harmony Montgomery, which lays out a timeline of the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families response and recommends future changes to the way certain cases are handled.
Harmony has not been seen in more than two years, shortly after a juvenile court placed her in her father's custody. Investigators have said they believe Harmony disappeared sometime between Nov. 28 and Dec. 10 of 2019. She was 5 at the time.
A look at the DCYF response
According to the report, Harmony's mother Crystal Sorey had custody of the child until 2018, and her last confirmed home was in Manchester with her family, Adam Montgomery. The report describes the family as "troubled, transient, and engaged with the Massachusetts child protection system prior to Harmony arriving in New Hampshire."
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The report states that a Massachusetts court ordered Harmony to be sent to her father in New Hampshire without the court requiring any further review of him or his home.
"No calls were made to New Hampshire’s Central Intake raising concerns regarding this Massachusetts court placement," the report reads.
The report says that on July 29, 2019, someone made an anonymous call to NH DCYF alleging potential abuse of Harmony, saying that when the caller visited the home a week before, she had a black eye that her father admitted to causing. The agency did make a visit and advised Manchester police that "they did not observe an injury on the child consistent with a black eye," noting that that assessment was made as the father and daughter were getting in a car and leaving.
In another visit, the caseworker noted a red mark and faded bruising under Harmony's eye. Adam and Harmony reportedly said she was injured while playing with a toy lightsaber with a sibling.
In total, a caseworker made three home visits in response to the initial abuse report, two unannounced, and said the children appeared "happy and healthy." The final assessment did note that the family could be "high risk" for future child welfare concerns.
The report also looked at a referral received by the agency regarding the family on Jan. 8, 2020, which did not reference Harmony. At that time, Adam Montgomery reportedly told a caseworker that she was living with her mother Crystal Sorey again in Massachusetts, and had been there since around Thanksgiving 2019. The report states that the agency left a voicemail for Sorey to confirm, but never received a response.
In January 2021 and March 2021 the agency received more referrals regarding the Montgomery family unrelated to Harmony. In those instances, Adam Montgomery said the girl was still with her mother and that he had not seen her in a year.
In September 2021, the agency was again contacted by someone raising concerns about Harmony's whereabouts. The reporter, a known contact of her mother Crystal Sorey, said that Sorey had not seen Harmony since 2019 and has not been able to contact Adam Montgomery to visit her. At this time, DCYF confirmed that Harmony was never registered to attend school in the Manchester public school system.
The agency notes that they had no record of any contact by Crystal Sorey herself between October 2019 and September 2021. Manchester DCYF launched a fuller investigation. The Manchester Police Department became involved in November 18, 2021. Police requested the public's help and released the first details of the case in December 2021.
The report was based on records from New Hampshire and did not include Harmony's history in Massachusetts. The law requires that certain personal details be removed.
Click here to see the full report below.
More on the Harmony Montgomery case
Harmony remains missing, and questions remain about the way the case was handled
The case has raised questions about the way the case was handled, with New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu blasting the court system in Massachusetts for their decision to place the child in the custody of her father, Adam Montgomery.
Sununu's criticism centered around a February 2019 decision by a judge in Lawrence that gave sole custody of Harmony to her father while the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families was in the middle of conducting a home study of Adam Montgomery and his then-wife Kayla Montgomery.
Court records pertaining to juvenile cases are confidential so it’s unknown what went into the judge’s decision. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate have said they are investigating.
An update on the case issued by the state of New Hampshire on Friday details recommendations to improve the way such cases are handled. It includes a call for updated legislation concerning the Increased Cross Border Communication and Collaboration, which was passed in 1965 to help states work together on such cases. In 2007, a new ICPC was drafted, but it requires 35 states to enact it to be effective, according to the report.
"ICPC lacks clarity as to which types of child placements apply; this has led to different states creating and applying different standards," the report reads.
The report also pushes for the state to replace its current case management system with a more modern version that makes it easier to see the history of a child or family, to add an assistant supervisor to the Manchester District Office, to keep assessment caseloads as low as possible, to work more closely with Community based volunteer services to help serve families, and to amend DCYF policy to require confirmation of the residence of all children who are a known member of a household, including if one is alleged to have moved away.
Harmony Montgomery Comprehensive Case Update
Adam Montgomery is currently in jail on charges connected to his daughter's well-being. He was charged with felony second-degree assault arising from 2019 conduct against Harmony, as well as one misdemeanor charge of interference with custody and two misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child pertaining to Harmony, the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office has previously said.