Harmony Montgomery‘s father’s wife was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly collecting over $1,500 in food stamp benefits for the child.
But Harmony, the missing girl from New Hampshire last seen in 2019, is no longer living in her home according to prosecutors. Kayla Montgomery, 31, allegedly failed to remove Harmony from her family account with the state’s Division of Family Assistance and went on to receive benefits between December 2019 and June 2021.
Kayla received benefits long after she says she last saw the child, according to a statement from the New Hampshire attorney general’s office. Kayla is the wife of Adam Montgomery, Harmony’s biological father. The two share three other children.
The mother pleaded not guilty to one count of welfare fraud in Hillsborough County Superior Court-North on Thursday.
Prosecutors fought to have her held on $5,000 bail, as they believed Kayla, if released, posed a flight risk based upon her criminal record — which includes several misdemeanor charges dating back to November 2012, as well as a false report to law enforcement, and a probation violation.
However, Kayla’s attorney, Paul Garrity, asked to have her released on personal recognizance.
“She’s now 31 years old, has young children, and her lack of records since 2015 I think indicates to the court … that she can comply and will comply with court orders,” he said.
Judge Amy Messer, who took the issue under advisement, said the bail request was “somewhat unusual” given the charge against Kayla.
“I don’t disagree,” Assistant Attorney General Jesse O’Neill said. “What I would say is this is an unusual case.”
Messer issued an order holding Kayla on $5,000 bail late Thursday afternoon.
Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg said earlier this week how Harmony was last seen at an unspecified Manchester residence sometime around October 2019 when she was 5 years old.
On Tuesday, Police arrested Adam on allegations he physically abused Harmony and on misdemeanor charges of interference with custody and endangering the welfare of a child.
Kayla informed investigators on Dec. 31 the last time she saw Harmony was around November or December of 2019 one morning before she left for work, according to charging documents.
Harmony’s biological mother approached Manchester police in November 2021 and informed investigators she had not seen her daughter since late 2019.
The girl’s whereabouts remained unknown as of Thursday morning.
Harmony has blonde hair and blue eyes, and is estimated to be 4 feet tall and weighing approximately 50 pounds, officials said. She wears glasses and is blind in her right eye.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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