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. Kelly51

    "A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. vickeyd

    My heart is broken for that young man. There are no righteous words that I can say, I want to raise hell and swear and scream and pound a wall. I am so sick of hearing about the child abuse that is happening everywhere !

    September 21, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jacqui

    This is one of the most horrible stories I have ever heard. It totally breaks my heart. Why would anyone do such a thing to someone??? I wish I had some way of helping this poor guy/kid. AWFUL!!!!!

    September 21, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Corey

    Life in solitary is the most fitting punishment for these monsters.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TS

    Where were the grandparents or other family members! I know if I didn't see or hear from my grandchildren I would be concerned. The mother should rot in hell she is the one that that should pay for this crime. This poor innocent boy should have been her main concern. How could any human do this to a child.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. george

    A sad commentary on the on the state of the "Old Neighborhood", as in , where were the neighbors, teachers.
    Or something just seems to be missing from this story.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. robert

    this why we have kids doing bad things i never rembemer when i was young. these kids are being drug up not raised
    up and its going to get worse.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Comeonman

    10 bucks they are religeous nutters

    September 21, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • puckles

      "religious nutters?" Seriously? More like DRUD ADDICTS!

      September 22, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
    • j-max

      I'll bet your browser has a spellchecker.

      September 22, 2012 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
    • rhondajo3

      @ Comeonman, $20 bucks says they have no religion at all.

      September 22, 2012 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Scruff

      J- Big difference between a simple typo and an obvious misspelling. Give it a rest.

      September 22, 2012 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Heat Monger

      >>" $20 bucks says they have no religion at all."

      Absolute BS. They live in Georgia, the vast majority of Georgia is baptist, catholic, etc. Odds are they are churchgoers. You rarely see atheists flying planes into buildings (Islam), bombing gov't buildings (Christian), or shooting people at a party (Norway, Christian).

      September 22, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kelly51

    Make no mistakes, this kid will need intensive therapy. He wouldn't be someone to adopt unless you are willing to give 24/7 365 days a year for as many years as he was held captive to give this young man back his dignity, if ever. These two heathens (I will not call them parents) should never see the time of day again.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Angela

    I lived like that from age 7 to 13. My stepfather only let me go to school because he had to. I was locked away and beaten for years, no one ever saved me. I'm 43 and still suffer to this day. I'll never forgive my mother.

    September 22, 2012 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
    • rhondajo3

      Angela, I am so sorry to hear of this unjust abuse and cruelty that you suffered!

      September 22, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
    • DebS

      Angela, I too am sorry that you had to live with that. I don't blame you one bit for not forgiving your mom. It was HER responsibility to give you a loving home and protect you. Instead she brings this monster into your live and then does NOTHING while he does this crap. She's not a mother. She just gave birth to you.

      A good therapist can help you work through the baggage as a result of that abuse.

      September 22, 2012 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. Tyler

    Good, now they can be confined to their cells for the rest of their lives

    September 22, 2012 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  12. Stephen

    This Story is just heart breaking.... the boy is always welcome in my household regardless of how long it takes for his recovery . this story is a reflection of how american life has gone vastley downhill... the cruelity, ruthlessness, harmfullness of evil people need to stop its so easy to knock a person down a flight of stairs but it extremely hard to pull a person up one step... the underbellies of what the heck is going on in america is what we should see bodly in this story. WOW. unbelievable this world is not worth being a part of when we cant even be descent to one another...

    September 22, 2012 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  13. Molly

    My heart goes out to you young Man, no one should ever be treated like this. I pray that you find some peace in your life now that you're away from these horrible creatures.

    September 22, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. getagrip23

    I live in this county and it never ceasesto amaze me that this happens. This county until the building boom was rural. That being said, there is a great disparity among the population. What amazes me is that, assuming these parents are of the more rural population, had the cunning to get away with it. If they hadn't kicked the boy out, he would still be there.

    September 22, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  15. Ricky & Tammy

    stop posting on blogs and actually help do something about children who can not be seen nor heard. CASA = Court Appointed Special Advocacy are ALWAYS looking for volunteers to serve the children that are neither seen nor heard....

    September 22, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
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