More than two years after Harmony Montgomery vanished without a trace, authorities have finally shifted their search for the missing 8-year-old to a homicide investigation.

In a Thursday press conference, New Hampshire Attorney General confirmed police were looking into who killed Harmony, who was last seen in late 2019 when she was 5 years old but was not reported missing until two years later. New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella said that while Harmony’s remains have yet to be located, investigators discovered “biological evidence” sparking the shift in the investigation.

“We believe Harmony was murdered in Manchester in early December 2019,” Formella added.

The announcement comes just one month after authorities swarmed the Manchester, New Hampshire, apartment Montgomery’s father, Adam Montgomery, and his estranged wife—who is not Harmony’s mother—Kayla once lived in. The Daily Beast previously reported that investigators were seen taking a refrigerator wrapped in biohazard tape from the apartment and loading it onto a truck.

“The time is now. Time to step up and do the right thing and call the tip line. Harmony is a sweet and innocent child who deserves to be brought home to her family and friends,” Manchester Police Chief Allan Aldenberg said during the press conference.

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Crystal Sorey, the child’s biological mother, told The Daily Beast via text message on Thursday that she was “devastated” about the news her daughter was murdered.

“I have this aching pain in my chest [that] I can’t shake,” Sorey said. “It’s more answers but deff [sic] not what I thought happened.

The mother added that despite the grim outcome, she was still determined to get more answers—and to see what remained of Harmony. “I’m going to make sure we get Justice & bring her remains home,” she said.

Authorities say that Harmony was last seen between Nov. 28 and Dec. 10 of 2019 after her family was evicted from their Manchester home. At the time, police say that Harmony was living with her father, her stepmother, and their two children. Kayla Montgomery has since been changed with perjury and has been indicted for allegedly using Harmony’s food-stamp benefits even though she was not living with the child.

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Neither Adam nor Kayla Montgomery has been charged in connection with her disappearance.

But Adam Montgomery is charged with a slew of crimes, ranging from charges alleging he stole guns just weeks before his daughter vanished to an indictment by a grand jury alleging he abused Harmony. In an arrest affidavit for the abuse charges, authorities say that in July 2019, Adam Montgomery allegedly inflicted a black eye on Harmony just months after child-protective services granted him custody.

“I bashed her around the house,” Montgomery allegedly told his uncle Kevin Montgomery, according to an arrest affidavit. The father said the abuse allegedly served as punishment after Harmony “was in charge of watching her infant brother while [he] was in the bathroom” and the baby started to cry. Kevin Montgomery previously described witnessing the aftermath of abuse to The Daily Beast.

The arrest warrant also said that Harmony was spanked “hard on the butt,” forced “to stand in the corner for hours,” and ordered, “to scrub the toilet with her toothbrush.”

But authorities were not informed of Harmony’s disappearance until the end of November 2021, Sorey told Manchester Police her daughter “was missing and that she hadn’t seen [her] in over six months.”

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The call prompted an investigation that ultimately led authorities to discover that none of Harmony’s family had seen her in years.

Court documents say that investigators spoke to Adam Montgomery and his new girlfriend on New Year’s Eve 2021. (Montgomery’s girlfriend at the time, Kelsey Small, was found dead in March, though authorities do not believe there was any foul play.)

During that conversation, the father “made contradictory statements,” including that Harmony “was fine and that he had seen her somewhere recently” before later admitting he had not seen her since November 2019. He said that the last time he saw her, her mother “came to pick her up” before eventually refusing to answer any more police questions.

“If I’m not under arrest, I’m leaving,” he said at the time.

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