New Hampshire man convicted of killing daughter, 5, whose body has not been found
Posted: February 23, 2024 - 1:58am

FILE - Adam Montgomery enters the courtroom for jury selection ahead of his murder trial at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester, N.H, on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. Montgomery convicted of second-degree murder by a jury Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in the death of his 5-year-old daughter, who police believe was killed nearly two years before she was reported missing in 2021 and whose body was never found. (David Lane/Union Leader via AP, Pool)

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire man was convicted of second-degree murder Thursday in the death of his 5-year-old daughter, who police believe was killed nearly two years before she was reported missing in 2021 and whose body was never found.

Adam Montgomery, 34, did not attend the trial and wasn’t present when jurors returned their verdict. He had proclaimed his innocence, saying in court last year in an unrelated case that he loved Harmony Montgomery “unconditionally.”

“I am grateful to the judge, jury, and Department of Justice for delivering justice for Harmony," New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement. "Adam Montgomery is a monster and deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison.”

Adam Montgomery's attorneys earlier acknowledged his guilt on two lesser charges, that he “purposely and unlawfully removed, concealed or destroyed” her corpse and falsified physical evidence, but said he didn’t kill his daughter. The jury also convicted him of assaulting Harmony Montgomery in 2019 and of tampering with the key prosecution witness, his estranged wife and stepmother of his daughter, Kayla Montgomery.

Investigators believe Harmony Montgomery was slain in December 2019, though she wasn’t reported missing for almost two years. Kayla Montgomery testified that the body was hidden in the trunk of a car, a cooler, a ceiling vent and a workplace freezer before Adam Montgomery disposed of it.

Defense attorney James Brooks deferred comment to Caroline Smith, the main attorney representing Adam Montgomery. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Adam Montgomery had custody of the girl. Her mother, Crystal Sorey, who was no longer in a relationship with him, said the last time she saw Harmony Montgomery was during a video call in April 2019. She eventually went to police, who announced they were looking for the missing child on New Year’s Eve 2021.

Photos of the girl were widely circulated on social media. Police eventually determined she had been killed.

“I’m relieved that there’s some justice being served,” Sorey told WMUR-TV on Thursday. “Obviously, it’s not over. I have a little bit of peace knowing that he’s being held accountable because he thought he was so untouchable and that she didn’t matter, that nobody would miss her. He was so wrong, he was so wrong.”

She said she still wants to find the remains of her daughter so she can finally bring her home.

“We’ve still got to find her,” police Chief Allen Aldenberg said Thursday. “This girl deserves better than the life she had.”

Harmony Montgomery's case has exposed weaknesses in child protection systems and provoked calls to prioritize the well-being of children over parents in custody matters. Harmony was moved between the homes of her mother and her foster parents multiple times before Adam Montgomery received custody in 2019 and moved to New Hampshire.

“I still firmly believe that some people in some other agencies need to be held accountable. And I’m asking for that,” Aldenberg said, referring to child welfare officials in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. "This little 5-year-old girl, she deserves somebody to be held accountable that failed along the way because we wouldn’t be standing here today if other people had done their job.”

Kayla Montgomery is serving an 18-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to perjury charges related to the investigation into the child’s disappearance and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. She testified that that her husband killed Harmony Montgomery on Dec. 7, 2019, while the family lived in their car after being evicted from their home.

Kayla Montgomery testified that her husband repeatedly punched Harmony Montgomery in the face and head because he was angry that she was having bathroom accidents in the car.

The couple noticed the girl was dead hours later when the car broke down, at which time Adam Montgomery put her body in a duffel bag, Kayla Montgomery had testified.

For the next three months, she testified, Adam Montgomery moved the body from container to container and place to place. According to his wife, the locations included the trunk of a friend’s car, a cooler in the hallway of his mother-in-law’s apartment building, the ceiling vent of a homeless shelter and a workplace freezer.

Lead detective John Dunleavy said Thursday that while he considered the conviction a win, it did not feel complete since Harmony Montgomery was still missing.

“We didn’t find her,” he said. "I will be on the job for some time, I still have about 15 years left. And as long as I’m a police officer, I’m going to continue to look for her.”

Prosecutor Benjamin Agati said at a news conference that the trial does not end the search for the girl. He said that after analyzing the mileage Adam Montgomery took with the rental truck into Massachusetts, there are about 26 miles (42 kilometers) that he could have covered where her remains might be.

“She is somewhere along that route,” he said, pointing out previous searches in the Revere, Massachusetts, area. “Those are still our big areas of search.”

Agati said that although Montgomery didn’t attend his trial, state law would typically require him to attend his sentencing, and they would be making a filing with the court to ensure that he would attend.

He said that when Adam Montgomery is sentenced in the coming months, he should face a minimum sentence on the murder charge of 35 years to life, a tougher sentence because of his daughter’s young age. He said that would be consecutive with armed criminal charges for which he is already serving a minimum sentence of more than 33 years.

Asked if that meant Adam Montgomery was never getting out of prison, the prosecutor said: “It’s a lot of time, and I hope I’m not practicing at the time that that minimum date ever comes around.”