An elected member of the New Hampshire Executive Council said Wednesday that people desperately want answers in the case involving Harmony Montgomery, a 7-year-old girl who disappeared in 2019 and whose father is currently jailed on charges of assaulting and endangering the still-missing child.
“It’s disturbing to watch the national news and see New Hampshire in the forefront” due to the case, said Councilor Theodore L. Gatsas during the regular meeting of the panel, which has several functions including approving judicial nominations and spending requests.
“And obviously there’s a lot of folks out there that have some major concerns, when there’s a $100,000 reward out there” for information leading to Harmony’s whereabouts, Gatsas continued. “What happened to her? ... Somehow, we need to communicate better. Because if we communicate better, there are [fewer] questions being asked by everybody in the public.”
His comments come amid the ongoing criminal probe into Harmony’s disappearance. Manchester police have set up a 24-hour tip line and confirmed a $104,000 reward funded largely by local business leaders. Police say they’re received roughly 300 tips.
State Attorney General John Formella responded to Gatsas during the meeting, calling Harmony’s disappearance a “tragic case.”
“It’s case that we’re still actively investigating,” Formella said. “A lot of people are working very hard. ... There will be a time and a place, I think, to discuss some of the issues you’re raising. But right now we still have an active search on for this 7-year-old girl, and we have an active criminal investigation going on as well. So we’re giving the public as much information as we can, but we can’t disrupt the integrity of the investigations that are going on.”
Police arrested Harmony’s father, Adam Montgomery, last week and charged him with felony second-degree assault, allegedly against Harmony. A Massachusetts juvenile court awarded Adam Montgomery custody of Harmony in February 2019.
Montgomery’s estranged wife, Kayla Montgomery, was also initially charged with a felony count of welfare fraud for allegedly collecting more than $1,500 in food stamps meant for Harmony after she had gone missing.
Prosecutors said Tuesday that they’ll drop that charge and add felony theft by deception in addition to eight misdemeanors, which allege Kayla Montgomery made an “intentionally false statement or misrepresentation” to obtain public assistance to which she wasn’t entitled, according to prosecutors and legal filings. A hearing in the case was postponed Thursday.
Kayla Montgomery is not Harmony’s biological mother.
Harmony’s mother, Crystal Renee Sorey, said Saturday that she was holding out hope her daughter is still alive. She told the Globe during a candlelight vigil that Harmony was failed by officials in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m hostile at this point,” Sorey said. “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.”
Police ended their search of a Manchester home where Harmony once lived on Monday. The residence at 77 Gilford St., where a different family now lives, was searched over the weekend and on Jan. 2, but police have not said whether any evidence was found or if other searches are being planned.
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu said Wednesday that DCYF had already started an internal review of the case.
“As soon as we found out that this child may not have been showing up for school for quite some time, it was reported up to us,” he said, noting the agency had been working with Manchester police since November. “The team got right on it. It wasn’t a delay. It didn’t sit in a file on somebody’s desk.”
Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.