For the past two weeks, 25 Investigates has been asking child protection agencies in two states about the decision to transfer custody of Harmony Montgomery, who had been in Massachusetts foster care, to her father Adam Montgomery, a New Hampshire resident with a long criminal history.
Citing privacy concerns and the investigation into the 7-year-old’s disappearance, both the Massachusetts’ Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the New Hampshire’s Division for Children, Youth and Families declined comment.
But, on Wednesday, 25 Investigates took our questions about Harmony’s February 2019 custody transfer directly to Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Governor Chris Sununu, and also asked why no one in either state noticed she was missing for two years.
Just a day earlier, Gov. Sununu sent a scathing letter to the Massachusetts court system for its decision to place Harmony in her father’s custody.
A Boston 25 Investigative reporter questioned Gov. Baker during an afternoon press conference in Boston.
25 Investigates: Do you think your legislature to take a look at the process here and not let a child leave DCF care without a home study completed?
Governor Baker: I think we should let the office of the child advocate do her job. She’s a very talented experienced person who will have access to information is not available to many of the rest of us and she has no dog in this hunt. This is 100% an independent review and I want to see the results of that review as much as Governor Sununu. Everybody else does.”
Baker added he shares the same concerns as the New Hampshire governor and said that everyone wants to know why Harmony left the state without an Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC), an agreement between states that would have required certain safeguards be in place before a foster care child is sent across state lines. An ICPC would have also required regular check-ins and a home study of the residence a child will be living in.
Meanwhile, investigative producer Patricia Alulema traveled to Concord, NH to ask Gov. Sununu about the case during a press conference there. Our team wanted to know how Granite State authorities responded once they became aware Harmony was in their state living in Manchester with her father. According to police reports obtained by 25 Investigates, police visited the home of Adam Montgomery over a dozen times between June 2019 and November 2019.
[ 25 Investigates: Police visited home where missing NH girl was last seen 13 times over five months ]
25 Investigates: What did DCYF New Hampshire do during that 6 month period from June 2019 when we first saw in police reports that they actually visited the home to December 2019 when you in your letter reference the interaction [with NH authorities].”
Governor Sununu: This isn’t about blaming one system or the other. This isn’t about casting blame it’s about bringing Harmony home. People are angry. Angry. Everyone is angry. And at the end of the day, if we’re transparent about it to get to the bottom of it. But it all started with that judge. I don’t know who this judge was putting that child, that little girl in the custody of that monster.”
In the letter Gov. Sununu sent the chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts, Kimberly Budd he expressed “grave concerns” about the decision to hand Harmony over to her father before his state had a chance to complete a home study.
“…in December 2018, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (MA DCF) requested that New Hampshire DCYF conduct a home study of Adam Montgomery and his then wife Kayla Montgomery….but while NH DCYF was waiting for the necessary information, a court in Lawrence, Massachusetts abruptly gave sole custody of Harmony to her father in February of 2019,” according to the letter.
As 25 Investigates first reported last week that when Harmony left Massachusetts without an ICPC in place that effectively ended DCF’s involvement in her life and the department closed her case.
[ 25 Investigates: ‘System failure’ allowed NH girl’s disappearance to go unreported for two years ]
Both governors have requested internal reviews of how agencies in their respected states handled Harmony’s case. Neither would say how long those investigations would take.
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