TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Authorities have arrested the stepmother of Harmony Montgomery, the young New Hampshire girl who has been missing since 2019.
On Thursday, police said the child’s stepmother, Kayla Montgomery, 31, was arrested on a single charge of welfare fraud. The charge is not related to the child’s disappearance.
According to police, between December 2019 and June 2021, Kayla Montgomery obtained more than $1,500 in food stamp benefits that were intended to help Harmony.
Police said she tried “to collect food stamp benefits for Harmony, despite the fact that Harmony was no longer living with Kayla and Kayla’s husband, Adam Montgomery.”
She pleaded not guilty at her first court appearance on Thursday.
On Tuesday, police arrested Adam Montgomery on a charge of second-degree assault, as well as one misdemeanor charge of interference with custody, and two misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child. The charges stem from an incident involving his daughter, but are not connected to her disappearance, police said.
Montgomery waived his initial appearance in court Wednesday afternoon.
According to a redacted affidavit, Adam Montgomery had custody of his daughter due to her mother, Crystal Sorey’s substance abuse issues. Both Montgomery and Sorey had substance abuse issues, the report stated.
According to the report, Sorey became sober and sought custody of her daughter, but she was unable to find her, despite contacting multiple schools and visiting the child’s last known address. She said she last saw her daughter via FaceTime on 2019. She took to social media to beg for help in finding her daughter.
“HARMONY- MOMMYS COMING FOR YOU. I PROMISE & I WILL NEVER LET YOU GO!!!! HANG ON BABY!!!!” she wrote on Twitter.
Other family members told police they believed Adam was abusive. Harmony’s great-uncle, who lives in New Port Richey, told WFLA he once saw the child with a black eye and reported the abuse to authorities. Kevin Montgomery claims he also witnessed the child being “forced to stand in the corner for hours” and her father ordering her to “scrub the toilet with her toothbrush.”
“We loved her, a lot of us that loved her didn’t have rights,” Kevin Montgomery said. “We didn’t have rights to make the parental decisions.”
Police said they learned of Harmony’s disappearance last week, and discovered she hadn’t been accounted for since October 2019.
The Union Leader reported that over the weekend, police were searching a home connected to the case. Property records showed the residence was sold in 2020. Police said those living at the house now were not involved in the girl’s disappearance and have been cooperating with the investigation.
Police say Harmony is about 4 feet tall and 50 pounds. She has blond hair, blue eyes, and glasses. She is blind in her right eye, according to police.
A $60,000 reward is being offered for information in the case. Those with information can call a 24-hour hotline (603-203-6060), the Manchester Police Department at 603-668-8711, Detective Jack Dunleavy at 603-792-5561, or the anonymous Crimeline at 603-624-4040.
This story is developing and will be updated.