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MA chief justice orders review in Harmony Montgomery case

January 27, 2022 GMT
FILE — Manchester Police Public Information Officer Heather Hamel holds two missing posters, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in Manchester, N.H., that show missing girl Harmony Montgomery. The chief justice of Massachusetts' highest court has ordered a review of the case of a missing New Hampshire girl who was last seen in 2019 at age 5, months after a Massachusetts judge gave custody of the child to her father. (John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via AP, File)
FILE — Manchester Police Public Information Officer Heather Hamel holds two missing posters, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in Manchester, N.H., that show missing girl Harmony Montgomery. The chief justice of Massachusetts' highest court has ordered a review of the case of a missing New Hampshire girl who was last seen in 2019 at age 5, months after a Massachusetts judge gave custody of the child to her father. (John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via AP, File)
FILE — Manchester Police Public Information Officer Heather Hamel holds two missing posters, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in Manchester, N.H., that show missing girl Harmony Montgomery. The chief justice of Massachusetts' highest court has ordered a review of the case of a missing New Hampshire girl who was last seen in 2019 at age 5, months after a Massachusetts judge gave custody of the child to her father. (John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via AP, File)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The chief justice of Massachusetts’ highest court has ordered a review of the case of a missing New Hampshire girl who was last seen in 2019 at age 5, months after a Massachusetts judge gave custody of the child to her father.

Chief Justice Kimberly Budd pledged in a letter to New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu that the high court would take steps regarding the “heartbreaking situation involving Harmony Montgomery.” Budd’s letter was provided by Sununu’s office Thursday.

“I share your view that we need to learn as much as we can about what happened,” she wrote.

Her letter was in response to one sent by Sununu last week in which he harshly criticized a Massachusetts court for placing Harmony Montgomery with her father and stepmother before the state could complete a study of their home.

In his letter to Budd, he described the father, Adam Montgomery as a “monster.” Adam Montgomery has a criminal record that goes back to least 2007 in both states. In Massachusetts, he was previously convicted of shooting someone in the head and a separate armed attack on two women, Sununu wrote.

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Sununu said said that at the time the court ruled, New Hampshire’s child protection agency had asked Massachusetts for additional information to complete the home study and would have likely found the father unfit.

Sununu requested a review of the of the court decision and all events leading to the judge’s ruling.

Budd wrote that the Massachusetts Trial Court is “cooperating fully” with the Massachusetts Office of Child Advocate’s review of the tragedy.

“In addition, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has directed the Chief Justice of the Trial Court to conduct a review of the matter,” she wrote. “We will take all responsive measures warranted by the facts and the law.”

In a statement Thursday, Sununu said that finding Harmony “remains everyone’s top priority and will take an all-hands-on-deck effort.

“I appreciate the Court’s willingness to join us in reviewing this very serious issue. Getting answers to the questions raised in my letter is paramount, and I am confident we all share this goal,” he said.

Harmony Montgomery was last seen at a Manchester home in September 2019, when she was 5. Manchester police were notified last December that the child had not been seen in two years.

Since then, police have searched the house where she was last seen. Harmony Montgomery’s father and stepmother have been arrested on charges related to her well-being.

Adam Montgomery was arrested on a second-degree assault charge earlier this month, as well as charges of interfering with custody and child endangerment. Police accused him of “purposely violating a duty of care, protection or support” by failing to know where the girl has been since late 2019 — the last reported sighting.

Adam Montgomery, 31, pleaded not guilty. He has been jailed without bail.

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Harmony’s stepmother, Kayla Montgomery, 31, has pleaded not guilty to a theft charge and two misdemeanors that accuse her of collecting food stamps in the child’s name.

Police believe that it was sometime from approximately Nov. 28–Dec. 10, 2019, that Harmony Montgomery disappeared. Police said witnesses reported that during that time, Adam and Kayla Montgomery and the children were homeless and living out of cars.

Police have received hundreds of the tips in the case and the reward fund has grown to more than $144,000. Anyone with information can call the 24-hour tip line at 603-203-6060.