Harmony Montgomery declared dead ahead of anticipated wrongful death lawsuit

Posted at 4:52 PM, March 12, 2024

NASHUA, N.H. (Court TV) — A judge has granted a request to declare  Harmony Montgomery legally dead as the child’s biological mother takes the next steps toward filing a wrongful death lawsuit in her case.

Crystal Sorey wipes away a tear

Crystal Sorey wipes away a tear during a hearing in probate court on March 11, 2024. (Court TV)

Crystal Sorey, Harmony’s biological mother, appeared at a probate hearing on Monday morning where she asked a judge to both declare Harmony dead and make her the sole administrator of the estate. On Tuesday, Judge Beth Kissinger granted the motions, contingent on Sorey filing the appropriate documents and paying ordered fees.

Harmony was 5 when she was beaten to death by her father, Adam Montgomery, in 2019. Adam was convicted of her brutal murder in Feb. At trial, he admitted to disposing of her body, which he hid in a duffel bag, a cooler, a ceiling vent and a refrigerator. The child was not declared missing until 2021. Her body has never been found, though Sorey has said she intends to continue searching for her daughter. Both Sorey and Adam have a history of substance abuse issues, and Sorey had been struggling in 2018 when Adam was given full custody of Harmony.

WATCH: Crystal Sorey: ‘It’s Hard for Me to Carry On Knowing She’s Out There’

Sorey’s attorney addressed the judge, saying that Adam’s admission during his trial to abusing his daughter’s corpse, as well as his conviction of her murder, provided the court “clear and convincing” evidence that Harmony should be declared dead. The judge asked to be provided a copy of the authenticated jury verdict within five days before issuing her ruling.

Harmony Montgomery

Harmony Montgomery. (Crystal Sorey)

While both Sorey and Adam are listed as Harmony’s heirs, Sorey asked the court for Adam’s name to be removed and for her to be named sole estate administrator. Sorey acknowledged in the proceeding that she is asking for Harmony to be declared dead so that she can move forward in filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the State of New Hampshire for her daughter’s death.

Adam chose not to attend Monday’s hearing. While a video link was set up with the jail, a corrections officer said that he “refused” to come. Adam similarly declined to attend his own trial.

The judge told Sorey that because of the planned lawsuit, before she can be named administrator for the estate she needs to submit a $10,000 court surety bond, and that any money recovered from the lawsuit will first go to an estate account and that money for attorneys and other bills can only be dispersed from there.

Tuesday’s order specifies that the letters of appointment will be issued after the judge receives an authenticated copy of the jury verdict and Sorey files a $10,000 fiduciary bond with corporate sureties.

Prosecutors pledged to continue their search for Harmony’s body after Adam’s conviction. She would have turned 10 on June 7, 2024.