Parents arrested after emaciated teen escapes after two years in basement
POSTED: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 8:30pm
UPDATED: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 8:34pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Georgia investigators are getting a closer look at the home where a malnourished Paulding County teen said he was locked up for years.
Authorities said Mitch Comer, 18, was just 87 pounds when a retired LAPD officer found him at a Los Angeles bus station last week. On Friday they conducted a search warrant at the home where he lived in Dallas, Georgia.
"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. 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.
Janet Comer, Paul's mother, says she hasn't spoken with her son 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 the 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 for several years.
His younger sisters told investigators they didn't even know the color of their brother's hair.
Neighbors said they had never seen the boy and rarely saw his mother, Sheila Marie Comer, 39.
Police brought Mitch Comer back to Paulding County on Thursday and were searching the family's home Friday afternoon.
Comer'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.