In one of the most horrifying cases of child abuse in recent memory, a couple in suburban Atlanta locked their own son in his room for four years, then put him on a bus and sent him to Los Angeles to fend for himself when he turned 18. Now his parents are in a pack of trouble.
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.This story is almost Dickensian and Kafkaesque in its grotesque detail. Paul and Sheila Comer took Mitch out of school in the eighth grade and kept him locked in a bedroom for four years. He was given small amounts of food daily, and was kept so securely locked up that the Comers' neighbors didn't even know he was there, and his stepsisters hadn't seen him in two years. For most of that time, they lived in Dallas, Georgia; north of Atlanta, but lived in other places as well over the years.
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.
When he turned 18, Paul Comer drove Mitch to the Greyhound bus station in Jackson, Mississippi. He gave Mitch a bus ticket to LA and sent him on his way. By the time Gonzalez found him, Mitch was so severely malnourished that he he looked at least five years younger than he actually was. According to KABC, he weighed only 97 pounds, and his skin was translucent.
Paul and Sheila Comer have been charged with cruelty to children, and have both been jailed without bond. The two girls have been taken into protective custody. While the charges only relate to Mitch, it's hard to imagine that the girls weren't abused as well.
Mitch himself is back in Georgia; a family was kind enough to take him in for now. Paulding County DA Dick Donavan says that all he wants is to live a normal life. Hopefully he'll get it--chances are he's going to need counseling for a long time, if not for the rest of his life.