MANCHESTER, N.H. — The mother of a missing 7-year-old girl said Saturday that she was holding out hope that her daughter is still alive, after law enforcement officials spent the day searching the home where the child was last seen more than two years ago.
Authorities have been searching since November for Harmony Montgomery, who was reported missing to Manchester police by her mother, Crystal Renee Sorey, who hadn’t seen the girl since around Easter 2019, after she lost custody of the child due to substance abuse problems. Harmony’s father, who secured custody of the child in a Massachusetts court that year, has since been arrested on charges that he abused his daughter.
At a candlelight vigil Saturday evening, Sorey told the Globe that Harmony had been failed by officials in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m hostile at this point,” she said, as a dozen or so friends and relatives hung posters and lit candles in honor of Harmony. “I have a lot of hostility to a lot of people that failed my daughter. And I’m included, I’m always going to own the fact that I played my part on this. But I never gave up on her.”
Authorities have repeatedly said the current residents of the home at 77 Gilford St. have no connection to the missing child and have cooperated with law enforcement. The house was also searched last Sunday by investigators, according to New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Jesse O’Neill.
O’Neill and Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg declined requests to release further information in the case Saturday.
Sorey said police had alerted her this week that they planned to re-search the property on Gilford Street, but that they didn’t say why.
Still, she said, she believes that her daughter — whose photo has been splashed across televisions and newspapers in the days since her disappearance was announced by authorities — is alive.
“People don’t realize the connection you have with your kids,” she said. “And I just know that I would feel it [if she were no longer alive]. This devastation that I wouldn’t be able to overcome. And I don’t feel that. I feel hope.”
A $94,000 reward has been offered for information leading to Harmony’s whereabouts, according to a post on Manchester police’s Facebook page. Officials are requesting the public’s help in locating Harmony, and anyone with information is asked to contact a 24-hour tip line at 603-203-6060, the statement said.
Harmony’s father, 31-year-old Adam M. Montgomery, faces a charge of felony second-degree assault against his daughter for alleged abuses in 2019, according to authorities. Montgomery also faces two misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child and a count of interference with custody.
Sorey triggered the search by authorities when she contacted Manchester police Nov. 18 and told officers she hadn’t seen her daughter for a long time.
Montgomery was arrested Tuesday by Manchester police. On New Year’s Eve, he refused to tell police where the child was and has told relatives he physically attacked his daughter in the past, according to court records. He is being held without bail.
He told investigators the last time he saw Harmony was Thanksgiving 2019, when Montgomery was with Sorey in Lowell, officials said.
Montgomery is alleged to have physically abused Harmony between July 1 and July 22, 2019 and actively endangered the welfare of his daughter since November 2019, according to court records.
Montgomery was awarded custody of his daughter in February 2019 by the Massachusetts juvenile court, according to the Office of the Child Advocate in Massachusetts. The court did so despite Montgomery’s long criminal history, which includes a 2014 conviction for shooting a man in the face during a drug deal in Haverhill.
Aldenberg has said Harmony was enrolled in a Massachusetts school but did not reveal further details.
On Wednesday, officials arrested Montgomery’s wife, Kayla Montgomery, 31, on a felony count of welfare fraud for allegedly collecting $1,500 in food stamp benefits meant for Harmony, according to the New Hampshire attorney general’s office.
Kayla Montgomery had notified New Hampshire officials on June 2 of last year that Harmony had moved back with her biological mother, according to court papers.
Early Saturday afternoon, police cruisers blocked off entrances to Gilford Street, allowing access only to residents.
The home is located in a quiet neighborhood filled with small, tightly packed homes. Snow from the week’s storm still covered the ground. Not far from Gilford Street, a couple of young children played outside.
Police appeared at one point Saturday to use a drone, which was flown for a short time over the property.
By Saturday evening, authorities had cleared the scene, though a Manchester police cruiser remained stationed outside the home.
Blair Miller, who along with his husband adopted Harmony’s brother, Jamison, in 2019, said Saturday that though he’s glad authorities remain committed to the case, news of Saturday’s search was “concerning.”
“We’re trying to cling to hope and optimism,” said Miller, who has remained in contact with Sorey since adopting her son. “But I’ll tell you — today feels very dark and worrisome.”
Sorey, speaking at the vigil Saturday at Bass Island Park in Manchester, said the ordeal surrounding her missing daughter has been hell.
“It’s like every day, I’m hoping I wake up and I get that call that ‘hey, someone brought her to a fire station, she doesn’t even know she was missing.’ I’m praying for that day to come,” she said.
“I want her to know that I’m out here, and we’re going to hand out fliers every single day, and we’re going to pass out these posters as far as we can,” Sorey said. “She is so very, very loved by everyone who’s ever met her.”
John R. Ellement of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Charlie McKenna contributed to this report.