Police: Stepdad confined teen for years, sent him away on bus
Paul Comer and Sheila M. Comer, both of Dallas, Georgia, have been charged with cruelty to children.
September 21st, 2012
06:56 PM ET

Police: Stepdad confined teen for years, sent him away on bus

A gaunt 18-year-old Georgia man told California police his stepfather had banished him and sent him on a cross-country bus ride after the stepfather had confined him to a room for four years, authorities said.

The confinement allegedly was so thorough, Mitch Comer's two younger sisters living in the same home hadn't seen the teen for the last two years, and he says he hadn't been outdoors in at least that amount of time, Paulding County (Georgia) Sheriff's Cpl. Ashley Henson said.

The teen's stepfather and mother were arrested in Dallas, Georgia, last week after a retired Los Angeles police officer found the teen wandering an L.A. bus station, weighing under 100 pounds at just over 5 feet tall, and looking like he was 12 or 13, the L.A. Police Department said.

Paul M. Comer, 48, and the teen's mother, Sheila M. Comer, 39, both of Dallas, Georgia, were charged last week with cruelty to children relating to alleged abuse during Mitch Comer's minor years, Henson said. Both are being held without opportunity for bail, pending an October 4 hearing.

"The information we have is the neighbors didn't even know there was a boy living in the home," Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan told "CNN Newsroom" on Friday.

The investigation started on September 11 when retired LAPD Sgt. Joe Gonzales, working security at an L.A. Greyhound bus station, called police after mistaking Mitch Comer for a child wandering the station alone, police said.

The teen told officers that Paul Comer had kicked him out of his Georgia home because he had just turned 18. Comer drove him to a Jackson, Mississippi, bus station, gave him $200 and information on Los Angeles homeless shelters that he gleaned from the Internet, put him on a bus and told him never to return, authorities said.

The teen also told investigators he was abused at home for the last four years, saying that after Comer removed him from school in the eighth grade, he was confined to a room and given small amounts of food daily.

He also said he was forced to "assume a grueling disciplinary position every day for eight hours, with the top of his head against a wall, his fingers interlaced behind his head and his feet raised off the ground," the L.A. Police Department said.

"He saw the mom and the (stepfather), but he hadn't seen the sisters for two years," Henson said.

Mitch Comer told investigators he lived mostly in Georgia, though the family moved to Arizona and perhaps other places before returning.

After Los Angeles police contacted Paulding County authorities, Paul and Sheila Comer were arrested, and the teen's sisters – ages 13 and 11 – were put into protective custody, Henson said.

One of Donovan's investigators flew to Los Angeles and escorted the teen back to Georgia, where a family volunteered to take him in "until we can get things moving or find a better placement," Donovan said.

"According to my investigator whom I sent to L.A. to pick him up and take him home, he is a very sweet, very polite young man who loves to read, and who said that his greatest desire is to just live a normal life," Donovan told "CNN Newsroom."

Henson said the charges against Paul and Sheila Comer relate only to the 18-year-old. Investigators have yet to speak to the girls in-depth, Henson said.

Sheila Comer's attorney, Renee Rockwell of Atlanta, said Friday that her client will plead not guilty. She said that she couldn't say a lot about the case yet.

"The investigation is just starting. I'm sure there's a lot that is going to come out sooner or later, just a lot of facts that have yet to be disclosed to the public," Rockwell said Friday.

Paul and Sheila Comer have not had any contact with each other since the arrests, Rockwell said.

A call to the office of Paul Comer's attorney, W. Scott Smith of Atlanta, wasn't immediately returned Friday.

The FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are among the agencies investigating the case, Henson said.

Henson said his department wants to give "all the credit to retired Sgt. Gonzales" and the Los Angeles Police Department for flagging the case.

"Without (Gonzales') watchful eye and his experience, (Mitch Comer) might never have been found, and he might not have survived," Henson said.

– CNN's Brooke Baldwin contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Crime • Georgia
soundoff (484 Responses)
  1. Everyone in the world

    That Dad should be forced to make that same position (the top of his head against a wall, his fingers interlaced behind his head and his feet raised off the ground) for the rest of his life. What a horrible excuse for a human being

    September 21, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Raven333

      Solitary confinment, put them in, lose the key.

      September 21, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • sameeker

      So should the mother. She will probably get probation since the women usually walk.

      September 22, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. chrissy

    Some people should be nuetered before they can procreate. Disgusting cpl of people.

    September 21, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. patrick horan

    That poor young man. My heart bleeds for him, those so called parents should serve life in prison at the very least!!

    September 21, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. georgieboy

    Not a single comment on this sad story? Public flogging is to good for these freak parents.

    September 21, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • georgieboy

      Sorry, for some reason, my computer did not show these.

      September 21, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Realist

      Drag them into the gutter, where they belong, and then flog them.

      September 21, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • BelladonnaCove

      Plenty of comments...good to see there aren't any in support of these people -don't want to call them parents.

      September 22, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Red Apple Mom

    This is a terrible story and thank God this young man seems well adjusted in spite of the horror he experienced. My wishes and prayers for your future happiness and good mental health young man.

    September 21, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Noah

    How do you plead? I KNEW YOU'D SAY THAT!

    September 21, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SoArizona

    Unbelievable. . . How many more of these real life stories have to surface. Fact is stranger than fiction.

    September 21, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Izoto

    Why do people do this? My god, it's disgusting.

    September 21, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. banasy©

    Oh, this poor kid...I sincerely hope for a better future for him, and I sincerely hope that these two "people" get what they so richly deserve.

    September 21, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. molly 317

    I pray that this boy grows into a happy, healthy, prosperous man who finds a family who will love him and help him to heal and forgive...not that this sorry excuse for parents deserve forgiveness but because forgiveness will allow him get past the trauma of his youth and never give his parents a second thought...I also hope that when they find themselves in their own prison cells that their punishment truly fits their crimes...

    September 21, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. al

    I can sort of understand (but not condone) the stepfather's abusive rejection and possible jealousy of
    a step-child who is not his flesh and blood – seems to happen all too often, but I simply can't fathom how
    the mother stood by and watched her own son being treated like this.

    September 21, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      A man who is jealous of of a child is not mature enough to marry and have children of his own.

      September 21, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brenda

      How do you live with yourself torturing a boy day in and day out? Barely feeding? Forced isolation? Taken out of school? Forced to stand against the wall for 8 hours a day? This guy or mother better never see the light of day themselves. I guarantee those girls were abused as well.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  12. Irene

    Sic! Disgusting! Hope these two NEVER get out of prison!

    September 21, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Julia

    This is A-W-F-U-L and I am appalled! OMG SO SAD!!! So messed up :(

    September 21, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jim

    Makes me sick.

    September 21, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. The Dude

    I bet they are Christians

    September 21, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ugh

      What's your point???

      September 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • giggity

      and bet you they collect welfare checks

      September 21, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Yeah, and I'll bet they vote Republican.
      See how STUPID sterotypes are?

      September 21, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Concerned123

      That is one of the most STUPID comments I have ever heard!

      September 25, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Bigot. I guess you looked in your crystal ball for that one.
      It is much more likely this guy is a paranoid meth head control freak, has paranoid schizophrenia, or some other mental illness.
      Other media reports are saying the creep never let the wife outside without him. Neighbors state he even accompanied the woman to the mailbox, so it is probable she was just as much a prisoner in her home as the kids. I will bet the girls have never been enrolled in school because he has been abusing them in a different way. He saw this male child as a future threat to his domination of them.
      People like that will use religion as a tool, but they do not really believe in it. Unbelievers, no matter what they profess.

      September 26, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • regenesis0

      I bet they abuse their children.

      October 10, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
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