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Massachusetts’ child welfare system failed to prioritize the “needs, wellbeing and safety” of Harmony Montgomery when she was placed in the custody of her violent criminal father in 2019, according to a state watchdog report published Wednesday.
“When children are not at the center of every aspect of the child protection system, then the system cannot truly protect them. This report describes the ripple effect of miscalculations of risk and an unequal weight placed on parents’ rights versus a child’s wellbeing,” said Maria Mossaides, the director of the Child Advocate’s office.
She said Harmony’s interests had not been placed “on equal footing” with an “assertion of her parents’ rights.”
Missing Harmony Montgomery and her little brother Jamison at a foster home more than two years ago. (Courtesy: Johnathon Miller)
Johnathon Bobbitt Miller, one of the adoptive parents of Harmony’s younger brother Jamison who had tried to adopt the girl for months before she vanished, tweeted Wednesday in response to the report from Mossaides’ office.
“So a father that Harmony did not know, that had shot someone in the face was better because the father was, ‘more of a blood relative’ than for Harmony to stay with her brother, the one thing constant in her life,” he wrote. “As Jamison’s adopted Dad I’m angry! Find her!”
The watchdog report found that Adam Montgomery, Harmony’s felonious father, had not been properly vetted before obtaining custody of his then 5-year-old daughter in February 2019.
Harmony, now 7, was reported missing last month after last being seen 2 years ago. (Manchester Police)
Montgomery is currently jailed on child abuse charges. He had already been in state prison when his ex-girlfriend and Harmony’s biological mother, Crystal Sorey, surrendered the girl to Massachusetts Department of Children and Families when the girl was just two months old, according to the OCA.
“The DCF case management team had no understanding of his family or personal history with which to develop an action plan and from which they could assess his capacity to parent Harmony,” according to Mossaides’ office.
Left: Adam Montgomery, who police arrested on child abuse and endangerment charges in connection with an alleged assault on his daughter from 2019 and her disappearance. Right: Missing Harmony Montgomery (Manchester Police)
The report also faulted Harmony’s attorney for failing to provide information to the juvenile court judge before she was placed in her father’s care.
In 2014, Adam Montgomery pleaded guilty to shooting a drug dealer in the face during a botched robbery in which the victim took his gun and shot him, too. Harmony was just four months old when her dad began an 18-month prison sentence.
“As we watched the report unfold today we had two thoughts, how did the system fail harmony while equally being grateful this wasn’t Jamison’s tragic story, it could’ve been,” Johnathon Miller told Fox News Digital.
Harmony Montgomery in an undated photo. (Manchester Police Department)
Johnathon and Blair Miller, who adopted Jamison in November 2019, had offered repeatedly to adopt Harmony and reunite the siblings. The couple has adopted two other children as well and said they’d gone through a series of extensive background checks each time.
“She was sent to live with her father, yet she had spent less than 40 hours with him at the age of 4 ½,” they said in a statement Wednesday. “Her brother, Jamison, was the most constant thing in her life because of their placements in and out of foster homes together.”
Kayla Montgomery, 31, was arrested in Manchester, N.H., on Thursday and charged with welfare fraud. Hers is the latest arrest as authorities continue their desperate search for 7-year-old Harmony Montgomery, who last seen in Oct. 2019 and first reported missing last week. (Manchester Police)
The Millers are pushing for federal laws that would establish consistent custody rules across state lines and to prioritize keeping siblings together.
They previously wrote to Adam Montgomery pleading with him to share information about the missing girl’s disappearance.
“Not a week goes by that Jamison doesn’t talk about Harmony,” they wrote. “He loves his sister and wants to have that relationship with her. In fact, he craves it.”
Adam Montgomery, a heroin abuser and career criminal, regained custody of his daughter in February 2019 by court order in Massachusetts. Then he brought her to Manchester, New Hampshire, where he is accused of giving her a black eye in July of that year.
Adam Montgomery stood for a booking photo at the Hillsborough County House of Corrections on Jan. 5, 2022. His 7-year-old daughter, Harmony Montgomery, was reported missing a week earlier but hasn’t been accounted for since 2019. (Hillsborough County House of Corrections)
After Harmony’s noncustodial, biological mother alerted authorities that the girl had not been enrolled in school for years, Manchester police in January discovered that was unaccounted for since November 2019, leading to the arrests of Montgomery and his estranged wife, Kayla Montgomery.
Adam is due back in court in June. Kayla had an appearance scheduled for Thursday.
Harmony’s whereabouts remain unknown.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the dedicated tip line at 603-203-6060.
“We agree, the system failed Harmony,” the Millers said in a statement Wednesday. “Our 5-year-old son will one day know that his sister was not protected.”