Harmony Montgomery’s mother has said her missing daughter was “failed by everybody” as police continue to search the home where the seven-year-old was last seen alive more than two years ago.
Crystal Sorey, who was first to report her daughter missing in November, spoke out in public for the first time about her disappearance at a candlelight vigil in the community of Manchester, New Hampshire, on Saturday night.
Ms Sorey told NBC Boston she has been “begging for any type of answer since 2019” as to what has happened to Harmony and had contacted the New Hampshire Division of Children, Youth and Families multiple times raising concerns about her daughter’s whereabouts.
Despite her reported efforts and Harmony not have been seen since late 2019, authorities only began searching for the little girl in December.
“My daughter was failed by everybody,” said Ms Sorey.
A huge investigation is now underway to search for the missing child, who is blind in her right eye and would now be seven years old.
Harmony’s father Adam Montgomery and stepmother Kayla Montgomery were both arrested last week on charges related to the missing child while investigators continue to focus much of their search on a home where they once lived.
Police have discovered that the last confirmed sighting of the child, then aged five, was more than two years ago when officers were called to an incident at 77 Gilford Street in Manchester in October 2019.
Harmony was living with her father at the home after he was awarded custody of her eight months earlier.
Investigators returned to the property at the weekend where they continued to search for answers about the missing child.
Officers were seen at the home on Sunday morning, removing sheets of home insulation and loading them into a police truck, reported the Boston Globe.
The home and backyard remained cordoned off with police tape after access to the street was limited for much of Saturday as a search was under way.
The New Hampshire Attorney General’s office said in a statement that the address is a focus of the investigation “because it is the last location where Harmony was known to reside before her disappearance in 2019”.
New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Jesse O’Neill told The Independent on Monday that police activity is still “ongoing” at the property.
He said he could not comment on what investigators are searching for or whether anything has been found, citing the active investigation.
A search had also been carried out at the property the weekend before with a tent seen erected in the backyard.
Officials have said the home’s current residents are not connected with the investigation and have been cooperating with law enforcement.
A neighbour told The Independent last week that the Montgomerys moved out of the home over Thanksgiving 2019 – the same time that the girl’s father claims to have last seen his daughter alive.
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, described noticing a “bad situation” at the home with 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.
She said the house had fallen into foreclosure and Mr and Ms Montgomery were refusing to leave and were “basically squatting” at the home with their children before finally being “forced out”.
The neighbour went away for the Thanksgiving holidays in 2019 and returned to find the family had finally packed up and moved out.
“It was over the Thanksgiving holidays when they had to be out of the house,” she said.
“The Marshals were coming in and leaving notices and they were going to be forced out if they didn’t leave.
“When I came back from my holiday, they were all gone.”
The move came just one month after police officers saw Harmony in the home during the last known sighting of the girl.
It is also around the same time that Mr Montgomery has claimed to have last seen his daughter.
The 31-year-old told investigators Ms Sorey picked her up from Manchester around Thanksgiving 2019, according to a criminal complaint against him.
Ms Montgomery, meanwhile, gave a different account telling investigators she last saw Harmony the day after Thanksgiving when her husband told her he was driving his daughter to see Ms Sorey.
Both said they have not seen or heard from Harmony ever since. Neither reported her missing and have claimed they thought she was living with her mother.
Police said Ms Sorey has said she has not seen her daughter since April 2019 and was the person who raised the alarm about her daughter’s disappearance.
Ms Sorey lost custody of her daughter in 2018 in part due to substance abuse issues and Mr Montgomery was granted custody in February 2019.
Ms Sorey, who lives in Massachusetts, said she last saw Harmony on a video call in April 2019 before her ex-partner and his wife cut off all contact with her.
She spent months searching for her daughter, including calling local schools in New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Division of Children, Youth and Families and driving by addresses connected to Mr Montgomery, she said.
In November, Ms Sorey contacted police, saying she hadn’t seen her daughter in a long time and had grown increasingly worried for her safety.
On Tuesday, Mr Montgomery was arrested and charged with second-degree felony assault, two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and one misdemeanor count of interference with custody.
On the assault charge, he is accused of “striking [Harmony] in the face” sometime in July 2019, giving her a black eye, according to the criminal complaint.
Police interviews with other family members revealed Mr Montgomery was allegedly abusive toward 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.
He allegedly admitted to a family member that “I bashed her around this house”, the complaint reads.
Officials have said Mr Montgomery is not cooperating with the investigation and refused to say where his daughter is in an interview on 31 December.
The day after her husband’s arrest, Ms Montgomery was also 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 husband, is accused of fraudulently obtaining $1,500 in food stamp benefits meant for Harmony between December 2019 and June 2021 even though the girl was not living with them.
Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Ms Montgomery’s mother Christine Lubin has branded her son-in-law “pure evil” and said she fears something happened to Harmony in the week between Thanksgiving and 6 December 2019.
Christine Lubin told reporters that Mr Montgomery can “sweet talk and swindle” and “talks up the storm” but is actually “the devil”.
“Adam for the first couple of years he was a sweet guy and he’s not. He’s pure evil,” she said.
Ms Lubin, who is currently caring for her daughter’s three children with Mr Montgomery, said she last saw Harmony sometime in winter 2019 and that her daughter told her it was the day after Thanksgiving.
She believes the roughly one-week timeframe between then and 6 December is significant as that date is when the family came to live with her briefly.
The family was homeless and living “on the streets and in a car” and came to stay with her but did not have Harmony with them, she said.
“I think it happened in a week period. I think it happened anytime from the day after Thanksgiving to December 6,” she said.
“So I think something happened in that week and I don’t know what day.”
She explained: “That date was reminded to me by my daughter because they [Mr Montgomery, Ms Montgomery and their three children] were homeless so they needed a place to come and I said I don’t really have the room and my landlord so they were here during the holidays during that timeframe.”
Ms Lubin said she believes her daughter is telling the truth about what she knows of Harmony’s disappearance, saying she “drilled” her but admitting “she used to be a liar”.
At Saturday’s vigil, Ms Sorey said she is holding onto hope that her daughter will be found safe.
“I don’t feel like she’s gone. I just don’t feel that in my heart,” she said.
“Like, I don’t feel like I lost her. And a mother knows, a mother knows if your baby’s here or not. I know she’s here.”
She made an impassioned plea to her daughter that she “won’t stop fighting” to find her.
“Hi, baby. If you can see me and hear me, I want you to know that I never stopped looking for you and I won’t stop fighting until I find you, okay?” she said.
“You stay strong and mommy’s right here fighting for you. I love you!”
The Independent has contacted the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office and Manchester Police Department for further information about the case.
Investigators are appealing to the public for help in locating Harmony and are offering a $94,000 reward for information as to her whereabouts.
Anyone with information is urged to call a 24-hour tip line at 603-203-6060.
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