The mother of Harmony Montgomery, the girl from New Hampshire last seen when she was 5 years old in 2019, says her calls and pleas to officials and the state’s child welfare agency to help her locate her daughter fell on deaf ears for months.
Crystal Sorey told The Boston Globe her pleas seemed to gain traction after she wrote a desperate e-mail to Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig on Dec. 29.
Harmony, who is blind in one eye, had been missing for months, Sorey wrote in her message. The girl was supposed to be in the custody of her father, Adam Montgomery, but she was no longer attending doctor’s appointments.
The state’s Division of Children, Youth, and Families had done “nothing” to assist Sorey, she wrote.
“Please,” Sorey wrote Craig. “im begging for help in finding my daughter.”
The e-mail followed months of attempts to get officials to aid in the search for her missing daughter, the newspaper reports.
“It just baffles me that this is where we are right now,” Sorey, 31, who has said she lost custody of Harmony in 2018 in part due to substance abuse issues, told the Globe recently. Sorey also has a criminal record.
“Because nobody wanted to listen to me because of my past. … I’m still a person, my daughter’s still a person,” Sorey added. “She’s somebody.”
Documents filed in court against Adam — now charged with allegedly assaulting his daughter — indicate Sorey first called Manchester police in November.
Police contacted DCYF and received addresses associated with Adam, according to the affidavit. Officers checked those addresses without success, though, the paperwork says.
The filings also indicate DCYF told authorities on Dec. 27, over a month after Sorey’s phone call to police, that the division was unable to locate Harmony.
That’s when police launched a formal investigation into the missing child, the records show. The department made its first public plea for tips in the case on Dec. 31.
Sorey and another relative who spoke to the Globe allege authorities only began to take the case seriously after Sorey’s e-mail to the mayor. Sorey also threatened to bring the story to the media, should her calls be ignored.
In the weeks since, police have arrested Adam and his wife, Kayla Montgomery. The latter is accused of defrauding the state of over $1,500 in welfare benefits intended for Harmony.
Heather Hamel, a spokesperson from Manchester police, told the Globe the department “immediately” contacted DCYF after Sorey’s call on Nov. 18.
However, the newspaper reported the department did not offer specifics about its search of Adam’s previous addresses, such as how many residences officers searched. The department also declined to provide a timeline of its work on the case between Nov. 18 and Dec. 29, according to the outlet.
DCYF declined to comment on the case due to confidentiality regulations, the Globe reported.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg defended his department’s work on the case.
“I get that that narrative wants to be out there — that the public, family perhaps, whoever, is looking to blame somebody,” Aldenberg said. “And I think that’s a natural reaction when it comes to things like this. I’m just not going to do that right now.”
That same day, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said at his own press conference that he directed DCYF to conduct an internal review of how it has handled Harmony’s case.
However, the process is standard in “critical” cases involving children and he is confident DCYF has stayed on top of this one, he said.
“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, the team got right on it,” the governor said. “There wasn’t a delay. It didn’t sit in a file on somebody’s desk. They moved right on it, which I give them credit for.”
Sorey said in an interview with the Globe she began searching for her daughter in 2019 after Adam and Kayla blocked her from contacting them.
She went in and out of sober homes and shelters after she lost custody, but reports filed in court indicate Sorey has since been sober.
Sorey told the newspaper she called schools in New Hampshire where she thought Harmony may be a student, used paid internet search tools to gather addresses connected to Adam, and tried repeatedly to contact DCYF before she contacted Manchester police.
“I didn’t just sit around and say, ‘Oh, they took my daughter, I’m just going to get high, man,’ ” she said. “By the time detectives got involved, I had probably about 16 e-mails [full] of information for them already … because I had already been looking for her for a year and a half.”
A Boston 25 News report earlier this week found that authorities received 13 calls for service in a five-month span in 2019 at the Manchester home where Harmony was last seen.
On Aug. 5 of that year, a neighbor called with concerns “about a young child living at that address,” adding there was “no electricity, just a small generator and there is trash everywhere.”
DCYF was contacted to check the conditions and officials determined, “Everyone’s home, generator is running, food in the house, they are healthy. All is well,” according to a police report.
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