Rampant abuse, damning DNA evidence and a ‘betrayal’ prison letter: Harmony Montgomery trial’s key revelations

GRAPHIC WARNING. Adam Montgomery was found guilty of murder after a trial heard disturbing revelations surrounding his daughter’s December 2019 death

Andrea Blanco
Thursday 22 February 2024 21:49 GMT
Police are asking for the public’s help in finding out what happened to Harmony Montgomery
Police are asking for the public’s help in finding out what happened to Harmony Montgomery (Manchester Police Department)

Adam Montgomery has been found guilty of murdering his five-year-old daughter Harmony following a two-and-a-half- week trial that exposed the disturbing things he did to conceal the little girl’s corpse.

Montgomery, 34, was convicted of second-degree murder, abuse of a corpse and falsifying information in the December 2019 death of Harmony.

Harmony disappeared in 2019, but police didn’t know she was missing until two years later when her mother publicly demanded an investigation after months of failed attempts to get in touch with Montgomery.

Montgomery’s estranged wife and Harmony’s stepmother Kayla Montgomery later came forward with allegations that he fatally hit Harmony in the head after she soiled herself while the family was travelling in a car. Kayla and Adam Montgomery’s then-infant sons were also inside the vehicle, where the family had been living after being evicted from their home in November 2019.

What followed were two years of disturbing plots to hide Harmony’s decomposing body. Montgomery finally disposed of it at an unknown location in March 2020.

Harmony’s remains have never been found.

Here are some of the key revelations that have emerged in court during the trial:

Adam Montgomery’s fingerprints found next to Harmony’s blood

After Harmony was killed on 7 December 2019, her father, stepmother Kayla Montgomery, and the couple’s two infant children moved in with Kayla’s mother. At that time, Montgomery reportedly kept Harmony’s remains inside a red freezer with a white lid.

The family later moved to a shelter, where Montgomery then hid Harmony’s body inside a ceiling vent.

“He compressed and contorted her body into this bag,” the prosecution said while showing a medium-sized tote bag.

Martin Orlowicz, a New Hampshire State Police Forensic Lab latent print examiner, testifies how he identified fingerprints in the Families in Transition Shelter
Martin Orlowicz, a New Hampshire State Police Forensic Lab latent print examiner, testifies how he identified fingerprints in the Families in Transition Shelter (AP)
The drywall ceiling stained with Harmony’s blood
The drywall ceiling stained with Harmony’s blood (CourtTV)

The state said that when investigators returned to the room two years later, they saw deep blood stains in the ceiling vent and smelled decomposition.

“And surrounding Harmony’s blood, all that was left of her .... the defendant’s fingerprints and palm prints, froze in there for a time,” the prosecution said.

Montgomery crushed remains until they fit inside maternity bag

It emerged on 12 February that the CMC (Catholic Medical Center) tote bag Harmony’s remains were crushed into was given to Kayla Montgomery after she gave birth to her son at the hospital.

“It was a diaper bag,” Kayla said.

Kayla Montgomery is shown a tote bag while testifying during the trial of Adam Montgomery at Hillsborough County Superior Court, Monday Feb. 12, 2024, in Manchester
Kayla Montgomery is shown a tote bag while testifying during the trial of Adam Montgomery at Hillsborough County Superior Court, Monday Feb. 12, 2024, in Manchester (AP)
The state said that when investigators returned to the room two years later, they saw deep blood stains in the ceiling vent and smelled decomposition
The state said that when investigators returned to the room two years later, they saw deep blood stains in the ceiling vent and smelled decomposition (CourTV)

Montgomery took daughter’s rotting remains to work with him

After neighbours began to complain about the smell, Montgomery reportedly brought the bag with Harmony’s remains to work with him every day.

At the time, he worked as a cook and dishwasher at the since-closed Portland Pie Company.

“[The bag] stood out to people, because he placed it in the freezer during his shifts,” a prosecutor said. “He brought it with him regularly to work and he stored it in a freezer where the company kept food, and ingredients. People saw him bringing that in and out. They couldn’t have imagined what that bag contained.”

Montgomery accused of buying $400 in equipment to destroy Harmony’s body

Jurors heard about a February 2020 $400 purchase of limestone, a metal-cutting diamond blade, a lithium-ion battery and a power grinder.

The purchase was made at a Home Deport located just a mile away from Citizens Bank, where Montgomery’s wife, Kayla Montgomery, reportedly withdrew $500 the same day. Prosecutors suggested that Montgomery may have used the power tools to destroy Harmony’s body in the bathroom of his Union Street apartment.

Adam Montgomery used quicklime to dissolve body in bathtub

Montgomery began discussing ways to dispose of Harmony’s body in March 2020, after he and Kayla Montgomery moved to an apartment on Union Street with their children.

“He discussed using a saw to cut her up. He discussed using lime to further decompose her so she couldn’t be found,” the prosecution said during opening statements. “Remember, he believed that if there was no body there could be no evidence and he could get away with this.”

The state said that he compressed the sealed bag with Harmony’s remains and added quicklime to the bag.

“Thinking that it would eat away anything left of her,” the prosecution said. “He spent most of the day in that bathroom compressing Harmony.”

According to the prosecution, Montgomery took Harmony’s frozen remains and put them in the tub, running hot water to further manipulate what was left of the body. Kayla Montgomery then walked inside the bathroom and saw Montgomery.

She saw that Harmony was largely skin, bones and fluid – and that Mr Montgomery was trying to dispose of her remains down the drain, the prosecution said.

Montgomery discussed using NutriBullet to further reduce remains

Kayla alleged that Montgomery discussed using a handsaw and a NutriBullet to destroy Harmony’s rotting remains. Montgomery spent hours inside the bathroom “dethawing” Harmony’s frozen remains, cutting the clothes off the body, and running hot water onto what remained of the little girl, she said.

“He wanted to use a handsaw and a NutriBullet,” Kayla told the court. “He said that’d be good to use to help get rid of her ... I saw Harmony folded together the same way she was when we took her out of the car. She looked like she had barely any skin, just skin and bones and was very bruised. He had the hot water running ... in the tub.”

Kayla Montgomery testifies during the trial of Adam Montgomery at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester
Kayla Montgomery testifies during the trial of Adam Montgomery at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester

It is unclear whether Montgomery actually used a NutriBullet. According to the prosecution, Montgomery did purchase lime, a metal-cutting blade and a grinder at a Home Depot.

Harmony had dried blood from being hit days before her death

Under cross-examination, Kayla Montogmery admitted that Harmony often had dried blood on her face from being beaten by her father.

“And you didn’t clean her face?” defence attorney Caroline Smith asked.

“No, we just kept her under the blanket,” an emotionless Kayla answered.

Kayla Montgomery put Burger King sandwich on Harmony’s lap without realising she was dead

Kayla Montgomery said that after Montgomery hit Harmony to death, the family drove to a Burger King. She fed her two young sons and placed a sandwich on Harmony’s lap without realising she was dead.

“After the defendant repeatedly struck Harmony. After he put the blanket over her. After she moaned. After the strange crying moaning stopped. After you did drugs and after the car died, you thought she was sleeping under that blanket,” the prosecutor said.

“Why did you think that she may be sleeping after Adam repeatedly struck her?”

“Because she would usually just go to sleep after,” Kayla Montgomery answered.

Montgomerys used SNAP benefits to pay for drugs

The Montgomerys’ dealer took food stamps as a form of payment for drugs.

As a result, Kayla Montgomery said, the whole family found themselves having to eat baby food.

“Who was eating baby food while you were living in that car?” the prosecutor asked.

“All of us,” Kayla Montgomery said as she broke down in tears. “Myself, and the boys and Harmony.”

Montgomery claimed he ‘missed’ daughter after murder

Tarah Hilbert, the building manager at the Union Street apartment where Montgomery, his estranged wife Kayla Montgomery and their two infant sons lived after Harmony was killed, told jurors that she befriended the Montgomerys six months after they moved to the building complex in 2020.

She then recounted a conversation in which Montgomery told her he had a daughter who lived with her mother in Lowell, Massachusetts.

“He said he had a daughter named Harmony and he hadn’t seen her in a couple of years because her mother had taken her,” Ms Hilbert said.

It is unclear when exactly the exchange took place, but it was at least eight months after Harmony was killed.

During cross-examination, defence attorney Caroline Smith brought up the context in which Montgomery volunteered that information.

“That conversation came up sort of the topic of him missing her, and you asked, ‘Well, where is she?’” Ms Smith asked. “And he said Lowell, Mass.”

Ms Hilbert agreed that this was correct.

Kayla Montgomery’s ‘betrayal’ demands in prison letter

During opening statements, the defence introduced a prison letter allegedly written by Kayla Montgomery after she was arrested on theft charges for collecting welfare benefits for the missing child between December 2019 and June 2021.

In the letter, she allegedly wrote the things she wanted in exchange for “betraying Adam.”

Among the things she reportedly requested were “immunity from everything, all charges she was facing ... maybe ankle bracelet, or probation or drug rehab, kids in my life, not lose custody and have kids live with me.”

The prosecution had previously suggested during their opening statements that Harmony died after her father repeatedly hit her in the head because she had soiled herself. The state argued that Kayla Montgomery didn’t come forward with information sooner because she was being abused and “terrorised” by her husband.

On Friday, defence attorney Caroline Smith read the letter out loud. Among other demands, Kayla wrote that she wanted to see Montgomery “one last time, kiss him, and maybe make love to him,” Ms Smith said — casting doubt on the prosecution’s argument that Kayla initially lied to officials because she was being threatened by Montgomery.

“What you didn’t write was protection from Adam, what you didn’t write was that you were afraid of Adam,” Ms Smith asked. “You just wanted to be with him before you, as you put it, betray him, right?”

“I wasn’t thinking about that .... yes,” Kayla answered.

Kayla Montgomery, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison last year over perjury charges, is expected to be the prosecution’s strongest witness.

Adam Montgomery pins blame for Harmony’s murder on ex-wife

Mr Brooks also claimed that it was Kayla Montgomery who last saw the little girl alive. Mr Brooks went on to say that Kayla Montgomery had created a web of lies to put the blame on her husband and that Adam Montgomery had merely agreed to destroy evidence to “protect” his wife and keep custody of their young children.

“He’s not innocent here. He and Kayla moved the body to keep it hidden. You should find him guilty on those charges,” Mr Brooks told jurors. “Adam Montgomery did not kill Harmony ... Kayla Montgomery was the last person to see Harmony alive and knows how Harmony died.”

While the family was living in their car, Montgomery was doing odd jobs in order to earn quick money, Mr Brooks claimed.

It was during one of those instances in which Kayla Montgomery was left alone with the children in the car that Harmony died, Mr Brooks said.

Kayla Montgomery arrives for her plea and sentencing hearing at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester, New Hampshire
Kayla Montgomery arrives for her plea and sentencing hearing at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester, New Hampshire

The state argued that Kayla Montgomery didn’t come forward with information sooner because she was being abused and “terrorised” by her husband.

“Harmony did not die in that intersection you saw yesterday,” Mr Brooks told the court. “Both Adam Montgomery and Kayla found Harmony’s body in the middle of the night after he returned from work at Colonial Village Apartments.”

The defence said Kayla Montgomery did not tell Adam Montgomery how Harmony died, but that he went on with a plan to destroy Harmony’s remains to “protect” his family. The couple then put off the decision to dispose of the body because they didn’t know what to do, Mr Brooks said.

Montgomery said police ‘were wasting their time’ trying to find Harmony’s remains

On 20 February, the prosecution called Manchester Police Detective Matthew Larochelle to the stand. During direct examination, the state played the recording of a call between Montgomery and an unknown individual that took place around the time that the FBI and other law enforcement organizations were searching for Harmony’s remains near the Merrimack River.

“One dude went to the police and I was blown away,” Montgomery told the other person on the call. “This dude was like, ‘Oh, my friend ... he passed away, but he was very cool with Adam. He told me Adam gave his daughter to him to bury by the river. I can bring you to the spot.’

“They had the FBI and everybody else there digging up the river. I’m like, is this real life right now? They wasted their time.’

When the other individual said that authorities were just doing their due diligence, Montgomery said the allegations were “outlandish” and that the search was a “waste of taxpayers’ money.”

“I get it, you’re trying to prove a case, kudos to you, But, at what cost, man? Just going to chase down people that f***ing call in from Arizona?” Montgomery said.

Harmony Montgomery ‘potty trained herself’

The prosecution argued that Harmony had met all the milestones for a girl her age, and only began soiling herself when she was sent to live in an abusive environment with her father. Harmony’s foster mother Michelle Raftery told jurors on Thursday that Harmony was potty trained by the time she was two and a half years old.

“We had the privilege of being Harmony’s foster parents ... At two and a half, going on three she was potty trained,” Ms Raftery said. “She wanted to be like the bigger kids in our house. So she would tell us, she pretty much potty trained herself.”

Ms Raftery cared for Harmony for several periods during her first four years of life as the little girl was frequently removed from her mother, who had a substance abuse problem. Ms Raftery said that Harmony would call her “momma,” and say “dadda” to her husband.

Harmony Montgomery was last seen in October 2019 at a home in Manchester
Harmony Montgomery was last seen in October 2019 at a home in Manchester (Manchester Police Department)

Doctors had initially said that Harmony was legally blind in both eyes, had issues with her brain, and was not expected to live past seven months.

“However I noticed that when I would feed her, she would track me with one of her eyes,” Ms Raftery said. “She was very sweet, very happy. She was very social and loved to be around people. Wherever she went, she would leave people happy.”

Harmony was “meeting every benchmark” and thriving with the help of a dedicated team of doctors while she lived with the Rafterys.

Montgomery said he had ‘bashed Harmony around’

Montgomery’s uncle Kevin Montgomery, who briefly lived in the same home along with Montgomery, his wife and kids, said while on the stand that he did not want to be in court but was subpoenaed to testify. Kevin told jurors he took a trip to Florida in July 2019 to visit family.

When he returned on 22 July 2019, he noticed Harmony had a black eye.

“Looked full all the way around, like a racoon’s eye,” he told jurors as he became emotional. “I said something along the lines of, ‘Oh my f***ing God, what did you do, Harmony?”

Harmony did not answer the question, but Adam Montgomery did, Kevin said.

“She didn’t do anything, I bashed her around the f***ing house,” he claimed his nephew answered.

Kevin told several relatives about the incident, including Harmony’s mother and foster mother, and also called the Department of Child and Family Services. A DCFS checked in on Harmony but only noticed a “small red mark” under her eye that her father claimed she got during a soccer game.

Kevin Montgomery tried to get ahold of his nephew in 2020, to no avail. He later realised that Adam Montgomery had blocked him on Facebook.

Under cross-examination, the defence tried to argue that Montgomery hit his daughter by accident after he walked in on her trying to suffocate her baby brother. However, Kevin Montgomery said he only recalled Montgomery saying Harmony had her fingers on the baby’s mouth.

During redirect, Kevin Montgomery clarified that he didn’t think Adam Montgomery was just “jerking Harmony” away from her brother, or that his comment about “bashing Harmony around the f***ing house” was sarcasm.

Montgomery claimed he ‘hated Harmony because she reminded him of her mother’

Rebecca Maines testified that she and Montgomery met in 2021 when they were both recovering addicts. Ms Maines called Montgomery “her best friend” and told the court that they had spent a lot of time travelling together before Montgomery’s arrest in late 2022.

During her testimony, Ms Maines, a former nurse, recalled an instance in which Montgomery reportedly admitted to her that he hated Harmony.

“Did he tell you how that made him feel?” prosecutor Ben Agati asked.

“He said he hated her, right to his core,” Ms Maines answered. “It reminded him of her mother.”

Montgomery reportedly told Ms Maines that Harmony lived with her mother in Massachusetts. Montgomery also discussed Harmony’s bathroom accidents and said he would put her in the corner whenever she soiled herself, Ms Maines told jurors.

“He told me that he dropped [Harmony] off at her mother’s,” Ms Maines recalled. “He said that her mother would not allow him to see her and that he had been trying for some time.”

When asked about the reason Montgomery gave for returning Harmony to her mother, Ms Maines said: “Because she continuously s*** her pants, [he said.] ...He said it was on purpose.”

Kayla Montgomery says ‘she still cares’ about Adam Montgomery

“Why stay with someone that does what he did to a helpless girl?” the prosecutor asked Kayla Montgomery as he held a large picture of her beaten face — allegedly caused by Montogmery.

“Because for some reason, I still care about him,” Kayla answered with her head down as she wiped her tears.

Adam Montgomery’s estranged wife says she ‘still care about’ him after alleged abuse

“Why stay with someone that beat her to death,” the prosecutor pushed.

“I don’t know, I was scared.”

Mystery caller dials into tip line

Last week, attorney Caroline Smith brought up a tip made by an unknown individual.

“During the course of the trial, apparently somebody contacted the tipline and was interviewed, gave information,” Ms Smith told Judge Amy Messer. “The state has given us a recording of the interview. I have not [gone through it.] We certainly have somebody trying to go through it. I don’t know, and I don’t need to name this person. I don’t know if we’ll be seeking to call this person [to testify].”

Senior Assistant Attorney General Ben Agati later explained that the call was placed by a woman on 13 February after she had spent several days watching the trial. Manchester Police only notified the prosecution the following day.

“She came into the station to be interviewed and provided a statement,” Mr Agati said.

Mr Agati said that a written report and the taped interview were sent to his office and then forwarded to the defence. Judge Messer asked Ms Smith to expeditiously file a motion seeking to have the mystery called on her witness list if the defence wished to call her to the stand.

Harmony Montgomery’s mother calls Montgomery a ‘coward’ after guilty verdict

Harmony’s biological mother Crystal Sorey and other family members attended the verdict, while Montgomery did not. He failed to show up at the trial at all, other than on the first day of jury selection.

Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom moments after jurors convicted Montgomery on all charges, Ms Sorey Ms Sorey remarked on Montgomery’s absence: “He’s a coward.”

Asked if she had a message for him, she said, “I hope that what he did plays over in his mind every single waking moment that he lives on this earth. And I hope he never falls asleep without seeing her beautiful face.”

“That’s all he cared about was control — everything in his life. She wasn’t anything to him,” she added.

Breaking down, she said she didn’t want her daughter to be remembered by her father’s name.

“She’s no longer Harmony Mongtomery, she’s Harmony Renee,” she said, explaining that both she and Harmony shared the same middle name. “She’s no longer a Montgomery.”

Ms Sorey said that it had been hard to hear the gruesome details about the little girl’s murder during the trial.

“I’ve heard it so much over the last four years but it was a lot different hearing it from their mouths,” she said about the witnesses, including Montgomery’s estranged wife Kayla Montgomery.

Manchester police chief calls for accountability

“It’s hard,” Manchester PD Chief Allen Aldenberg told reporters as he choked back tears following Montomery’s guilty verdict. “We’re still going to find her.”

Chief Aldenberg also criticised child welfare agencies for failing to ensure that Harmony was safe.

“There have been some failures, but those failures were not by Manchester police. I still think some people in other agencies need to be held accountable,” he said.

“This little five-year-old girl deserves people held accountable who failed along the way. We wouldn’t be standing here today if other people had done their job.”

Prosecutors said they expect Montgomery’s sentencing to take place sometime between late April and early May.

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