(AP) – New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu harshly criticized a Massachusetts court on Tuesday for placing Harmony Montgomery, missing since 2019 at age 5, with her father and stepmother before the state could complete a study of their home.
Sununu, in a letter to the chief justice of Massachusetts’ highest court, 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.
Sununu asked why the Massachusetts courts went ahead and placed Harmony Montgomery with him. The governor 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.
“It is unclear why the Massachusetts courts moved so quickly with this permanent placement prior to the completion of the home study. Why would the Massachusetts court choose to place custody of Harmony with this horrible individual? What caused such a fateful decision?” Sununu wrote.
Sununu is requesting the court review the decision and all events leading to the judge’s ruling.
“No child should ever leave Massachusetts in the custody of a dangerous criminal like Adam Montgomery,” Sununu wrote. “We must ensure that, moving forward, at-risk children of our states are protected and adequately monitored.”
Massachusetts Court System Spokesperson Jennifer Donahue said Budd received the letter from Sununu this afternoon and that the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate has opened an investigation “into this tragic situation.” The Massachusetts Trial Court, she added, was cooperating fully with that investigation.
Harmony Montgomery was last seen at a Manchester home in October 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, had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf by his lawyer. He has been jailed without bail.
Prosecutors dropped a welfare fraud charge last week against Harmony Montgomery’s stepmother, Kayla Montgomery, for collecting food stamps in the child’s name. The charge was replaced with three other charges, including theft.
Kayla Montgomery was charged on suspicion of obtaining $1,500 in food stamps from December 2019 to June 2021 for Harmony Montgomery, even though the girl was not living with the couple. She pleaded not guilty.
Police have received hundreds of the tips in the case and the reward fund has grown to more than $137,000. Anyone with information can call the 24-hour tip line at 603-203-6060.