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. mlgat

    His Mother bears a huge amount of responsibility for letting it happen

    September 22, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  2. teremist

    I am SO glad all of the children are now safe! THANK YOU Ret.LAPD Sgt. Joe Gonzales!!!!!! You are a HERO!!!! May these "parents" get as much mercy as they gave...NONE. PLEASE, if a friend, neighbor or relative, has a child who is suddenly just not around anymore........call the police, get a welfare check on that child! You may save their life.

    September 22, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  3. SARAH

    If the kid was black, nobody would call the police....plain and simple. There are hundred of black kids wandering around the bus stations everyday, and nobody cares !!

    September 22, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. waitforthefacts

    while i am not on either side, i am wondering when anyone will wait for the facts of this before they pass judgement on anyone. why is everyone blaming the stepfather? the child said that he stood in the corner for 8 hours a day.... while stepdad was at work? did stepdad even know that this was happening? if mom is left alone with the children, who knows what she was telling these kids? perhaps she is the one who is doing it all. perhaps she is the one who is telling the boy that the stepdad told her to do it. perhaps she is the one who is that crazy and who will come away looking like sunshine because they always blame stepdad..... and perhaps i am wrong, but who knows. you are all passing judgement on the stepdad simple because he is the stepdad and how could a mother do that to her child. guess what....mothers can (unfortunately) be abusers, too! wait for the facts and then judge as there is only one group of people talking right now and the other side has not had the chance to present their side. take a breather from your firestorm, please, and let the legal system battle this out.

    September 22, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. Joe

    The faces of evil

    September 22, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. joe

    The faces of evil, WOW

    September 22, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  7. Bayousara

    So many of these stories involve a step-father. The ladies love the outlaws, and this woman apparently fell for one, I will bet. She is, of course, as guilty as he is. Her own son.

    September 22, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  8. China free

    Wow! Lock them up and throw away the keys

    September 22, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Janet


      September 22, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. Joel

    I hear banjos playing. Guess we are in Georgia.

    September 22, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  10. Joel

    About ten years ago we went through Georgia on our way to Miami. We had stopped for breakfast and my wife talked me into trying a grit. It was like a small fried chipmunk. It wasn't that bad, until I found out grit is a small rodent they catch in georgia swamps, fry up, and eat for breakfast. I'm glad I like in New York.

    September 22, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • bob

      Nto sure what you ate, but "grits" is usally a breakfast dish in the south made out of corn.

      September 22, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • James

      You obviously don't know what you're talking about. Grits are made from ground corn. They aren't animals.

      September 22, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Somebodiy's leg is being pulled: either yours back then, or ours now.

      September 22, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • jett12

      I'm glad you live in NY, too, because you're obviously an idiot.

      September 22, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • LMAO

      You willingly ate something that looked like a chipmunk, but you're complaining about it now! Hilarious!

      September 22, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. fekt

    so the boy's 18 now. old enough to vote obama, i'm sure he's never paid income tax and thinks he's a victim.<<<<had to be said.

    September 22, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Was this comment supposed to be to be funny?

      September 22, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • James

      For that matter, I wonder why Romney ever bothered having kids of his own – after all, they don't pay taxes and they just expect other people to take care of them. Ingrates!

      September 22, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      This kid is part of the 47% that Romney cares nothing about.

      September 22, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • jenn

      He probably doesn't know who obama is. He has been locked up for 4 years the last president he saw was bushy lol.

      September 22, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  12. Smart Potato

    This poor young man. My heart breaks for him.

    September 22, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  13. gmenfan54

    This two need to be "put down".

    September 22, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  14. Nancy

    In the animal world, males kill offspring of their mate if they are not the father. It is sad to see so much animal instinct in human populations.

    September 22, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  15. alan

    confine him for many more years

    September 22, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
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