They’ve moved at least a dozen times in the past 10 years and have been known to pick up suddenly and move across the country, according to prosecutors. But the couple accused of locking away their teenage son for several years will be staying put for now.
For the second time in a matter of weeks, a Paulding County judge denied bond Friday morning for Paul and Sheila Comer, accused of holding the teen hostage in his own home and physically abusing him.
Attorneys for the Comers argued that the couple be granted bond and given ankle monitors. But prosecutors said the couple is a flight risk and has a history of quickly moving between rental homes.
“They’re running from something,” Dick Donovan, Paulding district attorney, said outside the courthouse following the hearing.
The Comers have been in jail since Sept. 12, when they were arrested at their Dallas-area home on child cruelty charges. Paulding County investigators were sent to the family’s home one day after 18-year-old Mitch Comer was found wandering a California bus station.
Wearing their orange-and-white striped jail jumpsuits, Paul and Sheila Comer sat quiet in court, separated by a defense attorney. Paul Comer shook his head at one point as an assistant district attorney described the alleged abuse to the court.
Weighing 87 pounds and appearing malnourished, Mitch Comer told investigators he was given a few hundred dollars and driven to a bus station after his birthday. For years, he was allegedly locked away in a bathroom and bedroom at the hands of his mother and stepfather.
Defense attorneys for the Comers have said that the teen could have left the home and was not denied food. Paul Comer’s attorney, Scott Smith, declined to answer reporters’ questions outside the courthouse.
“We’re going to try this case in the courtroom as opposed to in the media,” Smith said.
A trial date for the Comers has not been scheduled.
Paulding County resident Karen Pace said news reports of the teen’s alleged ordeal in September prompted her to organize a large fund-raising event planned for Saturday at Taylor Farm Park, near Powder Springs. Mitch Comer, who has not been seen publicly, will not attend but is the beneficiary of the event.
“I want him to understand the concept of community,” Pace said following the Friday hearing.
The Comers’ two daughters remain in protective custody.