Georgia parents plead guilty to locking up and starving their son for years before buying him a one-way ticket to California and throwing away all traces of his childhood
A couple from Georgia have been sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to locking up and starving their teenage son for years before buying him a one-way bus ticket to California.
Paul and Sheila Comer held Sheila’s son, Mitch Comer, captive for at least three years at their Paulding County home until he was found by police weighing just 87 pounds last September.
On his 18th birthday, they had bought him a one-way bus ticket for California, gave him pamphlets for homeless shelters and threw away all reminders of him, from his school work to baby shoes.
But he was spotted wandering around downtown Los Angeles by a retired police officer who thought the boy, who had near translucent skin from so little sunlight, was around 12 years old.
He told investigators that he had not seen sunlight in two years, and listed the abuse he had suffered at the hands of his parents, including how he would have to beg for food.
On Thursday, the couple were silent as they shuffled into the Paulding County courtroom, where they were sentenced to 30 years, half of which they will serve on probation.
As a condition of the deal, the Comers must also forfeit all of their assets, which will go into a trust fund for their three children, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
Cruel: Sheila and Paul Comer, pictured last October, bought him a one-way bus ticket to California on his 18th birthday, gave him pamphlets telling him where to find homeless shelters and told him never to return
Half of the money will go to Mitch, who has been placed with a foster family in the area, and the remaining to the couple’s two younger daughters, who are also in foster care.
The couple have still not said what led them to abuse the boy, but they claimed it was Mitch who wanted to go to California so he could be an actor.
‘We have no idea why it happened,’ Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan said. ‘I don’t know why God makes people that are mean like that. I don’t think he makes people mean, but I don’t know why there are mean people like that. I really don’t.’
Since returning to Georgia, the boy has gone from strength to strength, Donovan said. He had the choice of attending the hearing but chose to go to school instead.
Locked up: The couple, who also have two daughters, will serve 15 years in jail and 15 on probation
Mitch Comer was just 5′ 1″ and weighed only 87 pounds when he was found wandering around downtown Los Angeles.
Mitch told investigators he was confined to a bathroom and bedroom for years and wasn’t fed often, occasionally getting soup or cereal but little of substance, Morgan said.
Arrest warrants filed in Georgia said the Comers ‘made Mitch kneel on the floor, bend his head and place his forehead against the wall, and place his hands behind his head for long periods of time’.
The Comers’ two daughters, who are 11 and 13, told investigators they heard him cry and scream for food often, Morgan said.
The boy was kept in such seclusion that his two younger sisters in the same house did not know what he looked like, the authorities revealed.
‘The sisters haven’t seen the brother in over two years,’ said Paulding’s Cpl. Ashley Henson. ‘They didn’t even know what color his hair was.’
After he was spotted wandering the streets of Los Angeles in September, police in California contacted the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office, which launched an investigation.
The day after Mitch was found, the Comers were arrested at their Paulding home on child cruelty charges. They were indicted in October and denied bond in November.
The Comers had no prior criminal history, but were the subject of a 2009 investigation by local authorities following an abuse allegation when the family lived in Cherokee County.
The case was referred to the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, but was later closed, and no charges were filed.