Stepmother faces new charges in case of missing girl Harmony Montgomery

Girl went missing in 2019 when she was five years old but her disappearance wasn’t reported until late last year

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Wednesday 12 January 2022 22:26

Related video: Harmony Montgomery’s mother speaks out at candlelight vigil for missing seven-year-old

Prosecutors have replaced a welfare charge against the stepmother in the case of missing New Hampshire girl Harmony Montgomery with three new charges, including theft.

Court documents released on Tuesday show that Kayla Montgomery, 31, is no longer charged with welfare fraud for allegedly collecting food stamps in Harmony’s name. The girl went missing in 2019 when she was five years old but her disappearance wasn’t reported until late last year.

The state attorney general’s office has said that the change in charges was based on updated records about the benefits provided by the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Ms Montgomery pleaded not guilty to charges last week on suspicion of getting $1,500 in food stamps for Harmony between December 2019 and June 202, despite the girl not living with her and her father, Adam Montgomery.

The new charge of theft still claims that Ms Montgomery received food stamps in Harmony’s name but the charge was filed under a separate statute.

Two “prohibited acts” misdemeanour charges have been filed under a public welfare statute, arguing that Ms Montgomery intentionally made inaccurate statements, claiming that Harmony was living in her home to receive benefits in February and March last year. Her arraignment is set to take place on Thursday.

Last week, Ms Montgomery’s attorney requested that she be released from jail, and the judge agreed to set bail at $5,000.

Manchester Police Public Information Officer Heather Hamel holds two reward posters, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in Manchester, NH

After being informed by prosecutors that the welfare fraud felony charge is “unfounded, although a lesser charge or charges may be warranted”, Ms Montgomery’s lawyer filed a motion asking for bail reconsideration.

Prosecutors said that a review of her case file and conversations with Health Department employees led them to anticipate the filing of the felony charge as well as eight misdemeanour charges, but at the end of the day, two misdemeanour charges were filed along with the felony charge.

In a motion, they said the bail should remain unchanged. Prosecutors said they spoke to Ms Montgomery’s lawyer before filing the new charges, but the attorney had at that point already filed for bail reconsideration on the welfare fraud charge.

Ms Montgomery has three children under the age of five with Mr Montgomery. She told police on New Year’s Eve that she last saw Harmony in November or December 2019, adding that Mr Montgomery was driving Harmony to her mother in Massachusetts.

Police documents state that Ms Montgomery believed Harmony had been returned to her mother and that she didn’t see or hear about the child again.

She added that she hadn’t spoken to Mr Montgomery since November and hadn’t seen him since October.

This undated booking photo provided by the Manchester Police Department shows Adam Montgomery, of Manchester, NH

Mr Montgomery, 31, was charged last week with not having Harmony in his custody, among other charges. He has pleaded not guilty and is in jail without bail.

Police finished searching Harmony’s last known home on Monday. They have asked the public for help in the case, asking anyone with information to call 603-203-6060.

Manchester police have announced that any information leading to Harmony being found will be rewarded with $94,000.

The child’s great-uncle is also organising a fundraising effort.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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