It’s been two years since Adam Montgomery was charged with the murder of his five-year-old daughter Harmony.
Now, he’s been convicted in the shocking case that sparked uproar across America over the horrific abuse the little girl suffered – and the mounting questions around how she fell through the cracks of the systems meant to protect her.
Harmony was last seen in the fall of 2019 in Manchester, New Hampshire, but for two whole years, nobody reported her missing.
At the time of Harmony’s disappearance, she lived with her father, stepmother and the couple’s two children. Harmony’s mother, Crystal Sorey, had lost custody of her daughter due to substance abuse problems.
When authorities finally began looking for the missing child in December 2021, they were two years behind the search.
Then, just six months into the missing persons investigation, the little girl’s father was arrested.
He was later charged with second-degree murder, tampering with witnesses, falsifying evidence and abuse of a corpse.
Authorities secured his arrest after his estranged wife, Kayla Montgomery, came forward, alleging her husband fatally struck Harmony in the head when she had a bathroom accident in the car.
Montgomery then placed Harmony’s body in a cooler, which he then snuck into his workplace freezer, before disposing of her remains at an unknown location in March 2020.
His attorneys had claimed during the trial that Harmony died under Kayla’s care and that Montgomery only went along with plans to hide the body to “protect” his and Kayla’s two infant sons.
On 22 February, Montgomery, 34, was found guilty on charges of second-degree murder, abuse of a corpse and falsifying information.
With his sentencing expected to take place this spring, here’s everything we know about the disturbing case:
Who was Harmony Montgomery?
Harmony was born in June 2014. At the time, her father was in prison before his release in 2015.
The little girl was removed from her mother’s care at least three times in the first four years of her life.
In July 2018, the Department of Child Services removed her from her mother’s custody, due to her drug addiction, and placed Harmony in a foster home.
Then, in February 2019, Montgomery was granted custody of Harmony before a review of his home was completed by the New Hampshire Division of Children, Youth and Families.
While Ms Sorey lived in Massachusetts, Montgomery lived in New Hampshire – so Harmony was moved to a new state to live with her father.
The prosecution argued that Harmony had met all the milestones for a girl her age, and only began soiling herself when she was sent to live in an abusive environment with her father. Harmony’s foster mother Michelle Raftery told jurors that Harmony was potty trained by the time she was two and a half years old.
“We had the privilege of being Harmony’s foster parents... At two and a half, going on three, she was potty trained,” Ms Raftery said. “She wanted to be like the bigger kids in our house. So she would tell us, she pretty much potty trained herself.”
Ms Raftery said that Harmony would call her “momma,” and say “dadda” to her husband.
Meanwhile, Ms Sorey described her daughter to jurors as a “rambunctious” little girl who would tell her whole life story to anyone she met.
When was Harmony last seen?
The last confirmed sighting of Harmony was on 11 September 2019 when Manchester police officers were called to her father’s home on 77 Gilford Street in Manchester.
Harmony was living with her father as well as his wife, Kayla Montgomery, and their children at the property at the time.
Law enforcement said the last police callout to the property was in October 2019 but later confirmed they had muddled the dates and it was actually September.
Police interviews and statements from various family members also offered a timeline for her last known sighting.
Ms Sorey told police she had not been able to contact her daughter since they spoke on a video call in April 2019. After that, she said Montgomery cut off all contact between her and her daughter.
Montgomery first claimed to investigators that he last saw his daughter around Thanksgiving 2019, claiming that Ms Sorey had picked her up from Manchester to take her to live with her.
According to the criminal complaint, Montgomery claimed to believe his daughter was living with his ex when officers contacted him in December 2021.
He also did “not show much emotion or reaction” when officers said they were concerned whether Harmony was alive, the complaint alleges.
His story was also contradicted by Ms Montgomery, who told police she last saw Harmony the day after Thanksgiving when her husband said he was driving her to see Ms Sorey.
Montgomery’s uncle Kevin Montgomery told investigators he had not seen Harmony or his nephew since late 2019 when she was five years old.
When was the alarm raised?
Police interviews with other family members revealed that Montgomery was abusive towards his daughter, including giving her a black eye, forcing her to clean the toilet with her own toothbrush and making her stand in a corner for hours as a punishment.
Adam Montgomery’s brother, Michael Montgomery, told investigators he “had concerns that Adam was physically abusive” to the child and was “super short” with her.
His uncle Kevin Montgomery, who briefly lived in the same home along with Adam, his wife and kids, said while on the stand that he did not want to be in court but was subpoenaed to testify. Kevin told jurors he took a trip to Florida in July 2019 to visit family.
When he returned on 22 July 2019, he noticed Harmony had a black eye.
“Looked full all the way around, like a racoon’s eye,” he told jurors as he became emotional. “I said something along the lines of, ‘Oh my f***ing God, what did you do, Harmony?’”
Harmony did not answer the question, but Adam Montgomery did, Kevin said.
“She didn’t do anything, I bashed her around the f***ing house,” he claimed his nephew answered.
Kevin told several relatives about the incident, including Harmony’s mother and foster mother, and also called the Department of Child and Family Services (DCYF).
When a DCYF employer pulled up to Adam Montgomery’s driveway to follow up on the report, he drove away with Harmony in the car. By the time the employer checked on Harmony weeks later, she only had a red mark on her undereye that her father blamed on an accident she supposedly had while playing with her siblings.
Kevin Montgomery tried to get ahold of his nephew in 2020, to no avail. He later realised that Adam Montgomery had blocked him on Facebook.
Under cross-examination, the defence tried to argue that Adam Montgomery hit his daughter by accident after he walked in on her trying to suffocate her baby brother. However, Kevin said he only recalled Adam saying Harmony had her fingers on the baby’s mouth.
During redirect, Kevin Montgomery clarified that he didn’t think Adam Montgomery was just “jerking Harmony” away from her brother, or that his comment about “bashing Harmony around the f***ing house” was sarcasm.
Who was charged over her murder?
Montgomery was initially charged with second-degree felony assault, two misdemeanour counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and one misdemeanour count of interference with custody. The day after her husband’s arrest, Kayla Montgomery was arrested on one felony charge of welfare fraud for allegedly fraudulently collecting welfare benefits for the missing child between December 2019 and June 2021.
Ms Montgomery, who has three children with her estranged husband, fraudulently obtained $1,500 in food stamp benefits meant for Harmony between December 2019 and June 2021 even though the girl was not living with them.
Prosecutors later dropped that welfare fraud charge and added three new charges – one count of theft by deception and two misdemeanour charges of welfare fraud. She pleaded guilty to two of those charges in November 2022 and reached a plea deal with the prosecution in exchange for her testimony against her husband.
Court documents also show that Ms Montgomery, who was charged with unrelated theft charges, came forward with information that led to her estranged husband’s arrest.
Montgomery was charged with one count of second-degree murder for recklessly causing the death of Harmony; falsifying physical evidence for altering, destroying, concealing or removing the girl’s body; abuse of a corpse for unlawfully removing, concealing or destroying Harmony’s body; and tampering with witnesses or informants, which he did by attempting to coerce Ms Montgomery to lie to investigators.
“I do want to again express my deepest sympathies to Harmony’s family, friends and loved ones,” Mr Formella said at a news conference announcing the murder charges. “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.”
Kayla Montgomery was sentenced last year to 18 months in prison over perjury charges for lying under oath about Harmony’s whereabouts at the beginning of the investigation.
Adam Montgomery conceded to two charges of abuse of a corpse and falsifying information.
How did Harmony die?
During an interview with detectives, Ms Montgomery said that Montgomery had repeatedly punched Harmony in the face on 7 December 2019, after becoming upset with her for having bathroom accidents in the car their family was living in after they were evicted from their home that November.
The 48-page probable cause affidavit detailed how Ms Montgomery told investigators her husband had “delivered sets of three-to-four blows with a closed fist to Harmony’s face/head on three separate occasions over the course of a few minutes” that morning.
After the final blow, Montgomery said: “I think I really hurt her this time. I think I did something.”
Harmony made a “moaning type noise” for approximately five minutes “and then stopped”, Ms Montgomery told investigators.
No one checked on Harmony or stopped to get her medical attention, Ms Montgomery told investigating officers.
Instead, the family continued their ride to a Burger King before returning to the apartment complex, where they usually parked their car.
They remained in the parking lot for 20 minutes before driving off again. In a second interview, Ms Montgomery admitted that she and Montgomery used heroin and fentanyl during this period.
It was only when their car, a Chrysler Sebring, broke down that she claimed the couple discovered “Harmony was not breathing” and had died.
Montgomery then placed Harmony’s lifeless body in a red duffel bag. While living in the parking lot, Ms Montgomery claimed her husband would occasionally leave Harmony’s body out in the snow to slow the rate of decomposition.
When the family moved in with Ms Montgomery’s mother and her boyfriend, Montgomery placed the duffel bag containing Harmony’s body in a red cooler in the common hallway of their apartment building.
After that, the Montgomerys moved into a shelter house, where the bag began to leak. Montgomery reportedly put the duffel bag into a trash bag, and stored it inside a vent shaft in the ceiling of their room.
The state said that when investigators returned to the room two years later, they saw deep blood stains in the ceiling vent and smelled decomposition.
“And surrounding Harmony’s blood, all that was left of her... the defendant’s fingerprints and palm prints, froze in there for a time,” the prosecution said.
After neighbours at the shelter began to complain about the smell, Montgomery reportedly brought the bag with Harmony’s remains to work with him every day.
At the time, he worked as a cook and dishwasher at the since-closed Portland Pie Company.
“[The bag] stood out to people, because he placed it in the freezer during his shifts,” a prosecutor said. “He brought it with him regularly to work and he stored it in a freezer where the company kept food, and ingredients. People saw him bringing that in and out. They couldn’t have imagined what that bag contained.”
The Montgomerys then moved to an apartment on Union Street.
The purchase was made at a Home Depot located just a mile away from Citizens Bank, where Kayla Montgomery, reportedly withdrew $500 the same day. Prosecutors suggested that Montgomery may have used the power tools to destroy Harmony’s body in the bathroom of his Union Street apartment.
“He discussed using a saw to cut her up. He discussed using lime to further decompose her so she couldn’t be found,” the prosecution said during opening statements. “Remember, he believed that if there was no body there could be no evidence and he could get away with this.”
The state said that he compressed the sealed bag with Harmony’s remains and added quicklime to the bag.
“Thinking that it would eat away anything left of her,” the prosecution said. “He spent most of the day in that bathroom compressing Harmony.”
According to the prosecution, Montgomery took Harmony’s frozen remains and put them in the tub, running hot water to further manipulate what was left of the body. Kayla Montgomery then walked inside the bathroom and saw Montgomery.
She saw that Harmony was largely skin, bones and fluid – and that Montgomery was trying to dispose of her remains down the drain, the prosecution said.
Kayla also alleged that Montgomery discussed using a handsaw and a Nutribullet to destroy Harmony’s rotting remains. Montgomery spent hours inside the bathroom “dethawing” Harmony’s frozen remains, cutting the clothes off the body, and running hot water onto what remained of the little girl, she said.
“He wanted to use a handsaw and a Nutribullet,” Kayla told the court. “He said that’d be good to use to help get rid of her... I saw Harmony folded together the same way she was when we took her out of the car. She looked like she had barely any skin, just skin and bones and was very bruised. He had the hot water running... in the tub.”
In spring 2020, Kayla said Montgomery rented a U-Haul truck to dispose of Harmony’s body during the middle of the night. When he returned the next morning, he allegedly said words to the effect of “it’s done”.
Why was Harmony not reported missing for two years?
Questions arose over how a little girl could not be seen for more than two years without any action being taken by authorities.
Multiple family members have said they raised concerns for Harmony’s safety with New Hampshire’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) in the two years that authorities weren’t searching for her.
Ms Sorey accused authorities of “failing” her daughter. She said she made multiple attempts to report concerns to child services.
On 18 November 2021, she contacted Manchester police saying she believed her daughter was missing.
Police officers contacted the DCYF about the location of the missing child. Then, on 27 December of that year, the DCYF reported that it was also unable to locate Harmony.
Manchester Police announced a search was launched on 31 December 2021.
Ms Sorey was so convinced that her daughter was in trouble that she sent emails to the Manchester mayor’s office, begging for help in finding the girl.
“Please, I’m begging for help in finding my daughter,” she wrote on 29 December 2021.
Ms Sorey said Montgomery had never enrolled their daughter in school and that she has missed “important doctor’s appointments she’s had since a baby due to a disability in her eye”.
The emails were sent just two days before police finally reported Harmony missing.
As well as the repeated attempts to raise the alarm, the family was well-known to child services.
Records released showed that police officers were called to the Gilford Street home at least 10 times between February 2019 – when Montgomery got custody of Harmony – and October 2019.
Reports ranged from claims of domestic disturbances to animal welfare and concerns about the living conditions in the home.
The DCYF was notified about some of the incidents.
A neighbour told The Independent in 2022 that it was a “bad situation” at the property, describing lots of people living there at different times, adults seen arguing in the street, junk left piled up in the yard, and the electricity being switched off at one point.
“We didn’t intermingle with them as it was a bad situation,” she said.
“There was lots of different people living there, piles of junk in the driveway, junk outside.
“The electricity was turned off and they ran the generator all summer with the wiring running through the window.”
The neighbour said the Montgomerys were “basically squatting” at the home when it had fallen into foreclosure and were refusing to leave.
She said she went away for the Thanksgiving holidays in 2019 and returned to find the family had finally packed up and moved out.
This coincides with when Mr and Ms Montgomery claimed they last saw the little girl.
An independent investigation was launched by the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate after Harmony was moved from Massachusetts into the custody of Montgomery in New Hampshire in February 2019.
After the case came to light, officials in New Hampshire and Massachusetts passed the blame between each other.
The New Hampshire governor sent a letter to Massachusetts court officials slamming a judge for placing Harmony in the care of her “monster” father, given his violent past and long rap sheet.
Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker responded to the criticism, saying he “felt his pain” but said he wanted to wait to see the results of the independent review by the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate.
The report later placed the blame on state agencies for failing to consider Harmony’s needs above her parent’s rights to her custody.
“The central and most important finding in this investigation and report is that Harmony’s individual needs, well-being, and safety were not prioritized or considered on an equal footing with the assertion of her parents’ rights to care for her in any aspect of the decision making by any state entity,” Maria Mossaides, from the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate, said in the report. “When children are not at the centre of every aspect of the child protection system, then the system cannot truly protect them. This report describes the ripple effect of miscalculations of risk and an unequal weight placed on parents’ rights versus a child’s wellbeing.”
Mr Baker responded to the report a day later by saying “everybody failed in this case”, and pushed a bill that included $50m to recruit, train and pay guardian ad litems within the Massachusetts court system.
“There are a lot of lawyers who are in the room on this case, and none of them at the end of the day had just Harmony Montgomery’s interest as a primary concern,” Mr Baker said.
Montgomery’s past criminal history
Prior to the murder of his daughter, Montgomery has a history of violence and a long criminal record, including convictions for shooting a man in the head in a drug deal just six months before Harmony was born.
He was also convicted in 2010 for attacking two women at gunpoint.
It has also emerged that he is a suspect in the cold case murder of a 28-year-old man in Lynn, New Hampshire, back in February 2008.
Darlin Guzman was found shot in the chest in the parking lot of the former White Hen Pantry convenience store in Lynn’s Austin Square on the night of 10 February 2008. He was pronounced dead in hospital.
A law enforcement source told Boston 25 News that Montgomery, who was 18 at the time, and two members of his family, who were not named, have been the focus of the murder investigation since day one.
The three family members had been in contact with the victim earlier that day and planned to meet with him at the convenience store, before the meeting culminated in gunfire, according to the source.
No one has ever been charged with Guzman’s murder but the source said Montgomery remains the focus of the investigation to this day.
In June 2023, Montgomery was found guilty of all counts in his trial relating to stolen weapons in 2019. He was sentenced to 32-and-a-half to 75 years in prison.
Montgomery found guilty of daughter’s murder
Montgomery did not attend the trial and wasn’t present when jurors returned their verdict on 22 February. He had proclaimed his innocence, saying in court last year in an unrelated case that he loves Harmony Montgomery “unconditionally.”
His attorneys earlier acknowledged his guilt on two lesser charges, that he “purposely and unlawfully removed, concealed or destroyed” her corpse and falsified physical evidence, but said he didn’t kill Harmony.
Harmony’s mother Crystal Sorey, and her foster parents Michelle and Timothy Raftery were in the courtroom when Judge Messer read the guilty verdict.
After the verdict was read Ms Sorey remarked on Montgomery’s absence: “He’s a coward.” She said, “I hope he never falls asleep without seeing her beautiful face” and that he will constantly replay this verdict in his mind.
She added that it’s “all about control” for him and that Harmony “wasn’t anything to him.”
Where is Harmony?
The girl’s remains have never been found.
The Gilford Street property was the focus of much of the search, with investigators seen in the home and the backyard for multiple days. The reward for information about Harmony’s disappearance has topped $150,000.
During the trial, attorney Caroline Smith brought up a tip made by an unknown individual.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Ben Agati later explained that the call was placed by a woman after she had spent several days watching the trial. Manchester Police only notified the prosecution the following day.
“She came into the station to be interviewed and provided a statement,” Mr Agati said.
Mr Agati said that a written report and the taped interview were sent to his office and then forwarded to the defence. Judge Messer asked Ms Smith to expeditiously file a motion seeking to have the mystery called on her witness list if the defence wished to call her to the stand.
At a press conference following Montgomery’s guilty verdict, Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg noted that the department’s determination to find Harmony would not be impacted by the ending of the trial.
“We’re still going to find her,” Chief Aldenberg told reporters as he choked back tears. “This girl deserves better than the life that she had. This is never about winning or losing, this is about a five-year-old girl who was killed by her father. And I can’t think of a worse crime.”
Prosecutor Ben Agati said the Rumney Marsh Reservation and the Chelsea Creek area are still the biggest areas of interest. Mr Agati encouraged the public to come forward with any information they think could lead to finding Harmony.
“There’s a part of her body that we haven’t recovered,” Mr Agati said. “We’re still hoping that we can do that and she gets a proper burial ... It’s what she deserves. And so the search for her will continue until we find her.”
Ms Sorey also addressed reporters outside the courtroom, saying she didn’t want her daughter to be remembered by her father’s name.
“She’s no longer Harmony Mongtomery, she’s Harmony Renee,” she said, explaining that both she and Harmony shared the same middle name. “She’s no longer a Montgomery.”
Anyone with information is asked to call or text 603-932-8997