Woman Charged With Welfare Fraud, Allegedly Collected Food Stamps in Missing Girl's Name

The stepmother of a missing 7-year-old, who has not been seen since 2019, is charged with welfare fraud after collecting food stamps in the missing girl's name, according to the New Hampshire attorney general's office.

Kayla Montgomery, of Manchester, New Hampshire, was charged with one count of welfare fraud for allegedly collecting $1,500 in food stamps from December 2019 to June 2021 for Harmony Montgomery, despite the fact she was no longer living with Kayla and her husband, Adam Montgomery.

According to a police affidavit, Harmony Montgomery's biological mother, Crystal Sorey, originally stated she hadn't seen her daughter in over six months. She later said she last saw her daughter via video chat on Easter 2019.

Court documents show Harmony's mother first notified police the girl was missing in November 2021.

Manchester police set up a 24-hour tip line earlier this week, offering cash rewards in order to find Harmony Montgomery. Police said they are working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as well as two other agencies to find her.

"Someone knows something, do the right thing and call in," Police officials said in a press conference earlier this week.

In an earlier interview with police, Kayla Montgomery, said she last saw Harmony in November or December of 2019 when her husband was driving Harmony to Sorey, who was living in Massachusetts. According to police records, she said she thought Harmony was with her biological mother, but continued to collect food stamps intended for Harmony.

Kayla Montgomery appeared Thursday in Hillsborough County Superior Court and filed a plea of not guilty. Bail was set at $5,000 and the judge ruled that because of her criminal record, Montgomery will have to check in daily with police if she is released.

Kayla Montgomery Mug Shot
This booking photograph provided by the N.H. Attorney General's office shows Kayla Montgomery, 31, of Manchester, New Hampshire, who was arrested on January 5, 2022, in Manchester. Montgomery, wife of a man whose daughter went missing in 2019, has been charged with welfare fraud for collecting food stamps in her name, the New Hampshire attorney general's office said Thursday Jan. 6, 2022. AP/N.H. Attorney General's office

Kayla's husband, Adam Montgomery, 31, was charged Wednesday with several counts, including failing to have Harmony in his custody. His lawyer entered not guilty pleas on his behalf. He has been jailed without bail.

Paperwork submitted by Kayla Montgomery in January 2021 for food stamps indicated her household consisted of two married adults and four children, "three in common and all claimed as tax dependents." A case worker had added a note saying Kayla Montgomery "seemed confused about whether or not Harmony lived there because (she) goes to her mom's every other weekend," according to a police document.

That June, an account change report noted that case management for Harmony was closed, noting "client said she moved back with her mother and to remove her from her case," the document said.

Harmony's mother called Manchester police in November to say she hadn't seen her daughter in a while. She originally told officers she hadn't seen her in over six months, but then said it had been since Easter 2019, when she video chatted with the father and Harmony, according to a police affidavit.

Police said Adam Montgomery had legal custody of Harmony as of Feb. 22, 2019. He was arrested on a second-degree assault charge Tuesday, 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 she has been since late 2019 — the last reported sighting of Harmony.

In an interview with police, Harmony's great-uncle told officers he saw her with a black eye in July 2019. He said Montgomery told him he hit her after he had seen his daughter holding her hand over her younger brother's mouth to stop him from crying, according to the police documents.

The family member said he notified the state's child protective services.

Montgomery's brother also told police he was concerned he was "super short" with the child.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.