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Paulding Co. teen says parents locked him up for years

12:14 AM, Sep 22, 2012   |    comments
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Paul Matthew Comer and Sheila Marie Comer (Courtesy of Paulding County Sheriff)

DALLAS, Ga. -- Investigators are getting a closer look Friday at the home where a malnourished Paulding County teen said he was locked up for years.

Authorities said 18-year-old Mitch Comer was just 87 pounds when a retired LAPD officer found him at a Los Angeles bus station this week. On Friday they conducted a search warrant at the home where he lived in Dallas.

"We were able to locate the room that he was in," said Paulding County Sheriff Corporal Ashley Henson. "We were able to corroborate a couple of things that he had said about the room so we have every reason to believe what Mitch told us is accurate."

Investigators say Mitch Comer was secluded in a bedroom of the home on Vivid Lane. Two sisters, age 11 and 13, told police they haven't seen him for two years even though they lived in the same house.

Corporal Henson said it was understandable why Mitch never tried to escape. "We believe there was a lot of fear and intimidation and you also have to remember that this is a kid who has been abused for quite some time," he said. "He's small in stature, weighs 87 pounds, so he's probably very afraid."

Paulding County investigators have charged Mitch's adoptive father Paul Matthew Comer, 48, with six counts of Cruelty to Children and one count of False Imprisonment.

Mitch's mother, 39 year old Sheila Marie Comer is charged with the same counts.

11Alive News spoke with Janet Comer, the mother of Paul Comer who, along with his family, is at the center of these allegations. 

Janet says she hasn't spoken with Paul in four years but the last time they talked she said that her son had complained that Mitch was "giving him some trouble." She suggested counseling.

According to Janet, Mitch was not a 'problem child.' She said he liked "playing on the computer, fishing and camping." The child abuse allegations are a surprise to her -- she says they make her "sick to her stomach." She claims they boy could have come to live with her. 

According to Paulding County Sheriff's spokesman Cpl. Ashley Henson, the retired officer was working security at the bus station and approached Comer because he looked out of place. The man contacted police when Comer said his parents put him on a bus in Mississippi and told him never to come home.

Comer told detectives his parents locked him in his room on Vivid Lane in Dallas, Ga., for several years. His younger sisters told investigators they didn't even know the color of their brother's hair because they hadn't seen him in over two years.

Neighbors told 11Alive News they had never seen the boy and rarely saw his mother, 39-year-old Sheila Marie Comer.

The boy's stepfather, who adopted him, was identified as 48-year-old Paul Matthew Comer. Both he and his wife have been arrested on charges of cruelty to children and false imprisonment. Additional charges are possible. The GBI and FBI are also investigating. The couple is being held at the Paulding County Detention Center without bond.

Police brought Mitch Comer back to Paulding County on Thursday and were searching the family's home Friday afternoon. Cromer's younger sisters have been put in the care of Paulding County Department of Family and Children Services.

Investigators have found no records of Comer attending school after the eighth grade, when the family lived in Cherokee County, and there are no signs his sisters were ever enrolled in school or formal home school programs.

Anyone with information on the Comers is urged to contact the Paulding County Sheriff's Office Crimes Against Children Division at 770-445-6105.

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