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Harmony Montgomery case triggers internal review of NH’s DCYF

Gov. Chris Sununu said, however, he is "very confident" the agency has stayed on top of the case of the missing girl.

John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Manchester, N.H., police are searching for 7-year-old Harmony Montgomery, who has been missing since September 2019.
Harmony Montgomery

The case of missing child Harmony Montgomery, the New Hampshire girl last seen in 2019 but reported missing just two months ago, has triggered an internal investigation within the state’s Division of Children, Youth, and Families, Gov. Chris Sununu said Wednesday.

“Any time there is a critical case of a child, regardless of who the child is or the timing, we always do an internal review,” Sununu told reporters at a press conference on the state’s COVID-19 response. “And I’ve instructed DCYF to already start that process to do that … not just where were we in this specific case, but was there any point where information wasn’t being transmitted? Was there any point where we hit a roadblock and/or didn’t respond to something, or anything like that?”

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DCYF has assisted investigators in their search for Harmony — a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl last seen when she was 5 years old — since her mother approached Manchester police in November.

Harmony was apparently in the custody of her father, Adam Montgomery, when she disappeared. In early 2019, a Massachusetts court ordered the girl be placed his custody.

Adam, who has a lengthy criminal record, was arrested last week on a charge that he assaulted Harmony, as was his wife, Kayla Montgomery, who allegedly defrauded the state of $1,500 in welfare benefits dedicated to the girl.

Boston 25 News recently reported authorities had received 13 calls for service within a five-month span in 2019 to a residence where Harmony was last seen.

When a neighbor called police in August that year with concerns about a “young child” living there with no electricity except for a small generator and “trash everywhere,” DCYF was contacted, the news station reported.

Officials determined, “Everyone’s home, generator is running, food in the house, they are healthy. All is well,” according to a police report.

The outlet has also reported when Adam gained custody of his daughter, there was no Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, an agreement aimed at ensuring a child placed in care across state lines is receiving proper services and regular check-ins, among other measures.

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When a child is put in the care of a biological parent, an ICPC is not required under Massachusetts law, although the agreements are typically used for cases that cross state lines.

On Wednesday, Sununu said he is “very confident” that DCYF has stayed on top of the case and provided the information that it can.

“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.”

He added that DCYF officials are “pulling out every stop they can.”

“But we’re doing an internal review, as we always do,” Sununu said. “And if there’s anything to be found and learned from it, of course we will bring that to bear and change any processes that need to be changed. But I think they’re doing a very good job putting all hands on deck on this one.”

Sununu also acknowledged the public’s frustration with the lack of available details surrounding the case and Harmony’s family, since information is often kept confidential during an investigation.

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“Obviously, we’re turning over every stone we can to hopefully bring Harmony home safe,” he said. “I mean, there’s still a lot of hope that that is possible. There’s still a lot of unknowns.”

Authorities said on Wednesday rewards for information leading to Harmony totaled $104,000.

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