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. 1608

    cnn: is this the norm 2 days mixed in2 1

    September 22, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      @1608:
      It's the weekend.
      They won't post any new threads until tomorrow.
      Apparently, news doesn't happen on the weekends.
      Yes, this is the norm.

      September 22, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. reldra

    Lucky for them, they are in police custody and they live in the U.S. If it were up to me, I would ask that myself and a few other good parents be given 15 minutes alone with them in a room. After attaching them to a wall with their feet above the ground.

    September 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Eddie Gregory

    I can't believe how you can do something like this to a kid ...
    And that in a civilisized nation.
    Its very sad ....
    I hope he will now get the treatment he should have and make his way in life ....

    September 22, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Aezel

    Honestly, people that harm kids like this, just put them up against a wall and pull the trigger, there is no possile way their life has any value to society anymore.

    September 22, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. AnnieZ

    I've got an idea– do the same thing to the people that was done to the boy as punishment and see how they survive. This child needs compassion, love, and basics in life (food, shelter, clothing, education), along with a healthy dose of counseling to heal the wounds which I'm sure are deep. That he is polite and well read after this is only a testament to what the human soul can endure and survive– even though children need to do more than that. Thrive is their right!

    September 22, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Philip

    The perps usually get caught. It's their accomplices who get away.
    We've got to get over this idea that family blood is "thicker than water". If someone in your family is abusive to children, why wouldn't you call the police? To save your own sorry assed last name.
    @You priests and ministers. Why don't YOU call the cops on your church members who get caught by you? To save the sorry assed name of your stupid religion.
    Waterboard the enablers of those whom stalk and raype even our boys. Force them to speak their names out loud.

    September 22, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      Thank you for the irrelevant swipe at religion.

      You have truly raised the level of discourse on this forum.

      September 22, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • BelladonnaCove

      Agree with Nah......However Philip is correct in saying that people shouldn't protect their family members/relatives from wrongdoing. The Frey case ring a bell with anyone ?
      ( hint: around the area of Fremont, WI )

      September 22, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Isn't deception one of Eve's traits ?

      September 22, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Back to my analysis of your posts in the first few pages of this blog. truth seeker ;)

      September 22, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • tony

      God, (through his surrogate) gave out 4 commandments solely for the purpose of worshiping him and six decent moral code commandments to live by. And in Genesis 1:14 he previously ordered "watch the stars" for signs. B
      But the bible pretty much supports abusing wives and children as much as the father wishes

      September 22, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Standing Up

      This is actually in response to Tony. I'm not letting that comment about what he claims the Bible says slide by without standing up for it. Bible does NOT say abuse either the wife or the children. In fact, men are to cherish their wives as though they were their own body, and of children..."Any who would hurt one of these little ones, it would be better they hung a millstone around their neck and jumped into the sea," said Christ, and also, "Allow the children to come to me, do not hinder them, for such is the kingdom of heaven." In the Old Testament, the main reason God was so angry at the Israelites was because they had turned their backs on Him and were sacrificing their children to Baal. God expresses horror at the very idea they would do this. So, you know what? Most of the people that say "the Bible says this or that" negative thing, are lying or ignorant. Don't take anyone's word for it! READ IT YOURSELF.

      September 22, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Youareinthewrongspot

      I agree with Nah (in this case). No one was told of the boy, the neighbors did not even know he exists. How is a religion to blame? We did not even read anything about the people going to church, practicing Satanism, or living in a cult. Did you go straight to the comment section after you read the first paragraph?

      September 22, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Me

    I will never understand how a mother (or a father, for that matter) could allow anyone to mistreat their child this way! And now the boy is with family members. Where have these family members been for the past 4 years? And what did the sisters think happened to him? It's just disgusting. I hope the stepfather, the mother, and the dirtbag attorney representing them, all rot in hell... but in a jail cell first.

    September 22, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • pgb412

      if you read it the story says he is with "A" family. not relatives

      September 22, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justme

      It says "a family." Doesn't mean it is HIS family with whom he is temporarily staying. Read it again.

      September 22, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. A

    ANYWAY at all to send help or correspondence to this young man? Let us help him, please.

    September 22, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • From New Hampshire

      To help this man, contact the local police in Dallas, GA and see who can set up a trust fund for this young man. Get the name of the trust and the bank out to all who want to help.

      September 22, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Guest

    Both the mother and step-father should be tried, convicted, and executed; but the mother should suffer through a longer, slower execution; as it was HER child and it was HER responsibility to protect him.

    September 22, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pete

    Just appalling how people could be so cruel to their children.I still believe in an eye for an eye,it would certainly curb some people from going on with mistreatment like this.More psychological testing maybe today should be done on potential parents to curb such incidents.China has a pre check before their parents start trying to have children too,they sometimes mean well but it keeps a reign on too many children in one family and non compliant parents that have psychological problems like these two have also...

    September 22, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      Clearly the threat of imprisonment didn't stop these people from imprisoning their child, so I have no idea why you'd think "an eye for an eye" will curb anything...

      September 23, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. GAY BEEF

    i lol'd at this story... lol

    September 22, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Then you are a miserable human being.

      September 22, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • BelladonnaCove

      You wouldn't LOL if this were to happen to you... GB. And BTW those "parents" look like real winners...not !

      September 22, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      Are you that desperate for attention?

      September 22, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. skipper sam

    What is the name of his school district when he dropped out ?

    What is the name of the truant officer from the school when he dropped out ?
    What is the name of the Principle from the school when he dropped out ?
    What is the name of the School Councilor from the school when he dropped out ?
    If his (mom) or dad were receiving welfare, food stamps, or SSDI Whats is the case workers name ?
    What is the name of the Director of child procetive services in the counties he lived in ?

    Fire em all

    September 22, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justme

      I thought the same thing. In our school, if you miss one day of class, the school is calling your house trying to figure out who you are. The fact that he just disappears after 8th grade is crazy. No one caught this???

      September 22, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mouse

      Part of the article mentions that they may have moved to arizona for a bit. If you move out of state and let the school know at the end of the school year that that's where you're going they will stop keeping track of you. So unless there is some kind of law or something that says you have to give the name of the new school for school records, etc. and someone one is checking to see if you're enrolled in the new state, they could move out of state and then move back and no one is any the wiser about the poor kid.

      September 22, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Where is the FAMILY???.... The problem in this country is everyone is responsible except those that should be... FAMILY

      September 23, 2012 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. Anne S.

    I can never understand parents llike his. But then did you ever notice when a step parent is involved it was usually their idea? And why your own mother could subject your own child like this I'll never know.

    September 22, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. IvyLeagueMamaLlama

    It's really, really sad that children can slip through the cracks like this. I hope this boy gets some therapy, and possibly has some relatives somewhere who love him and can help him live a normal life.

    September 22, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kat

      Relatives already failed. Total strangers seem to look like a better chance at finding a loving family, and is able to heal.

      September 23, 2012 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
  15. BelladonnaCove

    @ Banasy...are you that kid from Pensacola christian college who was made to go to classes after finding out his brother was dead ? JMO, that college was wrong...

    September 22, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      @Belladonna Cove:
      No, I'm not.
      Never been to Pensacola, and college was more years ago than I'd care to admit.

      September 22, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
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