‘It’s time for NH to really be accountable’ in case of Harmony Montgomery, retired judge says

MANCHESTER, N.H. — 25 Investigates finds that the ongoing murder trial of Adam Montgomery is shedding light on a missed opportunity to protect Harmony Montgomery.

Authorities believe Adam Montgomery killed five-year-old Harmony on Dec. 7, 2019, but she wasn’t reported missing until nearly two years later. Her body has not been found.

In February 2022, New Hampshire state officials released a report in which former New Hampshire child protective services worker Demetrios Tsaros assessed Harmony Montgomery on the first day he went to the Montgomery home for a report of physical abuse.

But we now know from the former social worker’s testimony in Montgomery’s murder trial – that Tsaros barely saw little Harmony that day: July 29, 2019.

New Hampshire’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families received a report that 5-year-old Harmony suffered a black eye from her father, Adam.

The former social worker went to the family’s Manchester home.

On the Feb. 8 testimony, Tsaros told a prosecutor: “I noticed a person that I recognized as Adam Montgomery getting into a car.”

A prosecutor then asked: “Was anyone else present with Adam getting into that car?

Tsaros said: “There was a young girl, a small girl.”

The prosecutor then asked Tsaros: “How long were you able to observe her for before she got into the vehicle?”

Tsaros said: “Maybe 10 seconds, 15 seconds, not a long period of time.”

The prosecutor said: “And this was for 30-40 feet away?”

Tsaros said: “Correct.”

Those details are missing from New Hampshire’s report on what happened that day.

The report says an “...assessment was conducted as Adam Montgomery and Harmony were entering their vehicle.”

The report says the social worker emailed Manchester police saying Harmony had no injury consistent with a black eye.

“On that date, the CPSW sent an email to Manchester police department advising that they did not observe an injury on the child consistent with a black eye,” reads the report.

Retired Worcester County juvenile court judge Carol Erskine is closely following Montgomery’s trial, and she says New Hampshire missed a chance to have protected Harmony.

“It was a huge, missed opportunity to keep Harmony safe and probably one of the last opportunities to keep Harmony safe,” she told Investigative Reporter and Anchor Kerry Kavanaugh.

Erskine pointed out the difference between Tsaros’ testimony and the description of Harmony in the report.

“He testified that he saw her for 10 to 20 seconds from 40 feet away while he was in the car, and he testified that he didn’t recognize her as Harmony,” Erskine said. “He only saw a small girl. But in the report filed by New Hampshire regarding his visit with Harmony on July 29th, he said essentially that there was a brief assessment done of Harmony and her father outside the car and that he saw no black eye and nothing.”

She said that on the day the social worker appeared at the home, Adam Montgomery took Harmony away.

“I think New Hampshire needs to reopen that investigation in light of that testimony,” she said. “In my view, it’s time for New Hampshire to really be accountable.”

The social worker next saw Harmony on August 7th, 2019 – 10 days later – to conduct a second more detailed assessment.

“It’s concerning to me that there’s an allegation of physical abuse of a child by a parent, and there’s no real assessment until ten days later,” Erskine said. “That’s very concerning to me.”

The report reads: “When interviewed, Harmony Montgomery and Adam Montgomery said that the mark was caused by horseplay with another sibling when a toy light saber struck Harmony Montgomery near her eye.”

This month, a prosecutor asked Tsaros: “Specifically did you notice any markings to her face?

Tsaros said: “I did notice a small red mark under one of her eyes and some redness and discoloration in the eye that was closest to that.”

25 Investigates asked New Hampshire officials this week if they still stand by their 2022 report after the former social worker’s testimony.

A New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said: “We are required by state and federal laws to protect the confidentiality of individuals involved with the child protection system.”

The New Hampshire DHHS says it has implemented changes since Harmony’s case came to light, including requiring confirmation of residence for all children of a household.

In January 2020, another social worker went to the Montgomery home, according to New Hampshire’s 2022 report.

Adam Montgomery told them Harmony was now living with her biological mother.

There was little effort to confirm that it was true.

-- Other steps that New Hampshire DHHS says it has taken, according to spokesperson Jake Leon:

  • Established a new interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) and entered into a new ICPC agreement with Massachusetts. Other New England states are considering whether to enter into comparable agreements.
  • Added an assistant supervisor position in the Manchester District Office.
  • Continued to reduce caseloads for child protection service workers (18 assessments per CPSW in December 2023) and increased utilization of voluntary, community-based services.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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