What Happened to Harmony Montgomery?

What Happened to Harmony Montgomery?

After the two-year anniversary of her daughter’s disappearance, the mother of Harmony Montgomery has spoken out. Crystal Sorey reached out to the media, and amidst criticism of how her daughter’s case was handled, let the public know that she believes her baby is still alive, “I don’t feel like she’s gone. I just don’t feel that in my heart…and a mother knows, a mother knows if your baby’s here or not. I know she’s here.”

The case of Harmony Montgomery faced the same issues that many missing person cases did around the time of the COVID-19 outbreak. Harmony was last seen by Manchester police when they answered a call to her home in October of 2019, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader. However, any missing person investigator will tell you that if the case is not resolved within the first week of the investigation, it’s crucial for the missing person’s face to stay in the media. The continued presence of a missing person’s face in the media raises the likelihood that someone will recognize the missing person and provide law enforcement with information they may have on their disappearance. This generates new leads, which raises the chance that the missing person will be found. However, in the case of Harmony Montgomery, just eight short weeks after her disappearance, the first news of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the media. As the virus spread, COVID-19 dominated the news cycle, and missing person cases that desperately needed the media exposure were all but forgotten by the public at large. Now two years later, Crystal Sorey is making sure the world hasn’t forgotten about her missing daughter.

Harmony Montgomery was only 5 years old when she disappeared in October 2019. Unfortunately, it had been months since Forey had seen Harmony, reportedly because the girl’s father, Adam Montgomery, had blocked all contact between Harmony and her mother, according to NBC. Last week, Adam Montgomery was arrested by authorities and formally charged with felony second-degree assault “connected to conduct against Harmony” back in 2019. The New Hampshire Police followed up to say that he may also face charges of interference with custody, and two charges of endangering the welfare of a child. Harmony’s stepmother, Kayla Montgomery, was also arrested because she fraudulently received food stamp benefits for Harmony even after her disappearance. According to police, between December 2019 and June 2021, Kayla Montgomery received $1,500 in benefits for the missing girl, even though she had not lived with her or Adam.

Despite the flurry of arrests that have taken place over the course of the investigation into Harmony Montgomery’s disappearance, little progress has actually been made in finding the now 7-year-old girl. Last Saturday, the house where Harmony Montgomery was last seen was formally searched by law enforcement, despite the fact that there are now new occupants who are not related to the case. Police have established a tip line dedicated to Harmony’s case and have offered a cash reward for information leading to Harmony’s location in the sum of $94,000.

Indiana woman claims to be child who vanished over 20 years ago

Indiana woman claims to be child who vanished over 20 years ago

It’s the kind of story you see in movies—a young woman discovers that the circumstances of her past may not be what she originally thought. An adoption, a missing person case, possible DNA evidence; these are all plot points in a crime film. However, for Kaylynn Stevenson, the truth could be stranger than fiction now that she has her suspicions that she may actually be Brittany Williams, who disappeared from Richmond, VA when she was only 7 years old.

Kaylynn Stevenson has been sharing her story on social media, claiming she has proof that she is actually a missing seven year-old girl who disappeared from Virginia more than 20 years ago, “Who are you? I am Brittany Renee Williams. Are you sure? Yes, I am. Why are you sure. I’m sure because I have a DNA test to prove it.”

Stevenson was raised by adoptive parents in Columbus, Ohio, and only moved to Fort Wayne within the last year. While researching her biological family, Stevenson claimed to have flashbacks to childhood. After searching her surname ‘Williams,’ Stevenson was shocked to see results for a little girl on a missing person poster. She claims she recognized the little girl as herself.

Brittany Williams was only seven years old when she vanished from her foster home in Richmond, Virginia back in 2000. Brittany was suddenly absent from class and stopped appearing at court hearings with her foster mother, Kim Parker. Parker was so uncooperative with authorities that they deemed it wise to conduct a search of her yard in search of the missing girl’s remains. The missing girl’s case had many exacerbating factors that increased the urgency for answers—for example, Brittany Williams was born with AIDS, and required medication as a result. After some time with no answers in the investigation, authorities believed the little girl to be dead without access to her medication. Allegedly, Parker attempted to give Brittany to her sister out of an inability to care for her. Her sister refused, and Parker told authorities that Parker had paid two women in California to take Brittany. Both women deny ever having custody of Brittany and do not know her whereabouts.

In addition to sharing a surname with Brittany, Stevenson also claims to have had flashes of life in Parker’s foster home called “Rainbow Kids.” Stevenson also has scars on her body from a catheter and eating tube. Catheter scars were one of the distinguishing characteristics listed on Brittany William’s missing person poster. However, a crucial thing Stevenson and Brittany do not share is a diagnosis of AIDS. Despite this crucial inconsistency, WWBT has reported that the FBI and Henrico Police are looking into Stevenson’s claim by comparing her DNA sample to that of Brittany Williams’ half-sister.

Custodial Kidnapping: Hiring a Private Investigator

Custodial Kidnapping: Hiring a Private Investigator

custodial kidnapping

Most parents have their children’s’ best interests at heart, but when tempers flare or tense domestic disputes arise, a parent or guardian may act impulsively without thinking about the consequences. Custodial kidnapping—otherwise known as parental kidnapping—describes when one parent takes their child without the consent of the other. How complex the situation that follows becomes will depend on whether or not a custody order has been violated, and how challenging the abducting parent is to find. Regardless of the circumstances, it’s imperative to know how to proceed in the case of a custodial kidnapping.

Violation of a Court-Ordered Custody Agreement

In the case of divorced or separated parents—or indeed any other circumstance where a custody order may already be in place—a clear violation can allow you to act. Taking a child will certainly prevent “parenting time”, custodial, or visitation rights from being met. In a case such as this, you can file a motion for contempt of court, and reach out to your child custody office for enforcement support. If you have reason to believe your child is in danger, you can also contact local authorities in the event of a custodial kidnapping.

When There is No Custody Order In Place

When custodial kidnapping or parental kidnapping occurs that is not in breach of a custody agreement, the parent left behind can find themselves left in a much more complex situation. Your goal should be to seek an emergency custody order from the courts, however presenting a body of evidence to support that order will be vital. A parent leaving their home state with a child does not necessarily equate to breaking the law. Your filing will have to demonstrate that the kidnapping parent or guardian is actively evading the jurisdiction of the courts, doesn’t have the wellbeing of the child in mind, or is putting the child at direct risk.


When to Call In a Private Investigator

Any parent whose child has disappeared is bound to feel that time is of the essence. A licensed private investigator will be perfectly poised to jump directly on the trail of your child before it goes cold. They will also be able to assist with compiling an airtight case that will stand up to the scrutiny of a judge. Because of the deeply emotional nature of custodial kidnappings, a private investigator can prove indispensable—providing all-important impartiality as a documented body of evidence is built that will support your cause in court.

At times, parental kidnappings can distressingly unfold into a hide and seek scenario. Causing great heartache to the parent or guardian left behind, tracking and tracing the child in question can become the absolute number one priority. For moments such as these, our team of missing person investigators here at Lauth Missing Persons bring 30 years of dedicated experience to the table—having located not only missing adults and children in the US, but also those missing overseas. Should you discover that your child may have been taken abroad, we are equipped to step up the search to an international scale without missing a beat.

Turning to Trusted Missing Person Specialists in a Moment of Crisis

Here at Lauth, missing person investigators offer a bounty of experience in helping parents to navigate child custody cases and quickly locating children who have been kidnapped by a guardian. Drawing on a depth of legal and jurisdictional understanding, we can help you assess the current crisis; advise on your options; liaise with your lawyer, authorities, and applicable NGOs; and act with urgency to keep your child safe.
If you are in the midst of a custodial kidnapping and want help in building a case or urgently locating your child, we are on hand to help. Learn more about our process, or contact our team today to learn more.

Search Continues for Ryan Larsen, Missing Boy with Autism

Search Continues for Ryan Larsen, Missing Boy with Autism

ryan larsen

Cases of missing children are always more fraught than those of missing adults, but missing child cases can be even further compounded when missing children have neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. This requires a specialized approach in the missing person investigation that can present particular challenges, like the ones investigators have faced in searching for Ryan Larsen, 12. It’s been over 125 days since Ryan disappeared from his school last May, and investigators are still stymied on what exactly happened in the moments before his disappearance.

Ryan Larsen walked away from La Vista West Elementary school in La Vista, Nebraska on May 17, 2021. Following the report of his disappearance, police launched a comprehensive search of land, air, and water in the nearby areas only to come up with nothing. Unfortunately, investigators were staring down a long tunnel with no answers. In a press conference nearly a month ago, La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten said “After the initial period of searching by land, by air, and the water, things went a little bit stagnant.”

Just like any missing person case, the Ryan Larsen case has been subject to a barrage of self-proclaimed psychics who claim they know what happened to Ryan, but none of the tips investigators have received have panned out. When Ryan’s umbrella was found by a dumpster near his family’s home, landfill assessment experts from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in pursuit of the theory that Ryan might have accidentally fallen in the dumpster and had ended up in the landfill. Lausten also told the media, “They did an analysis and the possibility of that would be very minute, the lowest probability on the scale of that happening. So there’s no evidence we had that it actually happened, but we wanted to rule out even those remote possibilities.”

In hopes of better preparing the La Vista Police Department to better handle cases such as Ryan’s, they have launched a new community program called “Take Me Home.” The program will allow members of the community to help law enforcement with information on their children with special needs, or vulnerable adults. “Getting information about special needs kids, people or vulnerable adults and have that in a database so if we do get a call, for example of an Alzheimer’s patient that walks away from their house, the information we will have already is what places they frequent if they have done this before, where were they found before,” explained Lausten. “So when we’re en route to the call, officers can get into areas quickly and we can get the search going.”

This kind of program has the ability to accelerate the processes behind missing person investigations and benefit future missing persons. Future emergencies can be more quickly resolved and increase the chances of a vulnerable missing person being found.

Ryan Larsen is described as white, 5’8” tall, with brown hair and hazel eyes. At the time of his disappearance, he was wearing a black jacket, blue jeans, an Old Navy Shirt, and was carrying a polka dot umbrella. If you see Ryan, authorities say not to call his name; instead, keep your distance and call 911. Anyone with information about his location should call Sarpy County Crimestoppers at 402-592-STOP (7867); or call 911. LVPD is also urging the public to use its See It, Say It, Send It app to submit tips, but to also “be mindful of unsubstantiated rumors circulating on this case.”

An AMBER Alert Was Not Issued for This Missing 5-Year-Old. Here’s Why…

An AMBER Alert Was Not Issued for This Missing 5-Year-Old. Here’s Why…

On Tuesday, July 27, 2021, the community of Fruitland, Idaho has been impacted by the disappearance of a 5-year-old boy, Michael Vaughn. In a move that puzzled some citizens of Fruitland, Payette County opted to issue an endangered missing person alert  for the missing boy rather than the more colloquially-known AMBER Alert. Michael is described as 3’7″ tall, 50 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a blue ‘minecraft’ shirt and dark blue boxer briefs with sandals.

Michael Vaughn was last seen on Tuesday in the area of SW 9th and Arizona around 6:30 p.m. It was only an hour before law enforcement was on the ground looking for Micahel, assisted by the fire department, EMS, helicopters, drones, and a throng of community volunteers. Despite their best efforts, these first searches yielded no answers for investigators. “The Fruitland Police Department would like to extend a sincere thanks to all of our partner first responders and our community for taking the time to help us thoroughly search the area,” Huff said, however, “I am asking citizen searchers to stay out of the area until the professional search crews are finished.”

Many wondered why investigators did not issue an AMBER Alert for Michael Vaughn when he was reported missing. After all, an Amber alert gives investigators the ability to send out a notification to all cell phones within a designated radius to increase the chances of discovering leads. However, law enforcement is typically very discerning when it comes to issuing AMBER Alerts. If AMBER Alerts are issued too liberally, their impact can be diminished as the notifications become part of the digital background noise in all of our lives. Therefore law enforcement adheres to strict critereia when it comes to AMBER Alerts, which is as follows:

  1. A child is known by police to have been abducted.
  2. The abduction occurred within 12 hours of initial rerport
  3. Child is under 17
  4. Investigators must suspect the child of being in immediate danger or loss of life.
  5. There must be enough information regarding the disappearance to make the AMBER alert useful to public.
  6. The missing child has been entered into NCIC.

In the event that a missing child case does not meet all of the above criteria, law enforcement is then able to issue an Endangered Missing Person Alert, which carries similar tools to that of the AMBER alert. These notifications are sent through email, text messages, social media posts, and the alerting program known as CodeRED. By 9:40 on the evening Michael Vaughn disappeared, investigators had expanded the notification of his disappearance nationwide.

TikTok is Helping Spread Awareness of Missing Person Cases

TikTok is Helping Spread Awareness of Missing Person Cases

Missing person TikTok

Have you ever seen a missing person TikTok? As an emerging platform, TikTok has already become a sensation, allowing creators everywhere to spread short content quickly to get likes, views, and subscribers. In recent years, TikTok’s wide audience and ability to share information fast has allowed its creators to also use it for the wide spread of information. In this way, the platform has become an ideal way to quickly circulate information about missing persons.

In 2002, Tiktok user Alicia Kozak was groomed online and subsequently kidnaped by a predator who held her for four days before she was finally recovered. She was 13 years old at the time, and believed the person she was speaking to online to be a boy her own age. In reality, it was a 38 year-old man named Scott Tyree. He groomed her over a year before luring her to meet him. He coerced her into his vehicle, then drover her across state lines from Pennsylvania to Virginia. An anonymous tip came into law enforcement about Alicia’s location. The FBI were able to locate Tyree’s IP address and thus his physical address where they successfully recovered Alicia.

Alica’s story was one of the first high-profile stories on the dangers of the internet and grooming behavior. Predators slide into chatrooms and private messages, ingratiating themselves to minors with the intention of luring them from the safety of their homes and into their captivity, taking kidnapping plots to an entirely different level. It’s a danger that not many parents were aware of at the time, and as a survivor, Alicia saw an opportunity to educate the public about internet safety. She started the Alicia Project, an advocacy group that toured around the nation, speaking to children in schools about remaining safe online.

Since the beginning of her advocacy, Alicia has moved her message online, using the power of the social media algorithm to raise awareness for other missing person cases. By its very nature, TikTok provides concentrated content in a finite amount of time, which can be ideal conditions for spreading awareness about a problem or a cause. A missing person TikTok has the potential to reach thousands—if not hundreds of thousands—of people. When someone goes missing, a focused and strategic effort to share their face and story can go miles towards finding answers in their disappearance. You can learn more about using social media to locate missing persons here.