Couple charged with child cruelty faces judge

Parents in Paulding malnourished teen case make court appearance

The Paulding County couple accused of holding their teenage son in captivity for several years and denying him food appeared in court Tuesday morning, where a judge found probable cause to keep them behind bars.

Paul and Sheila Comer, charged with numerous counts of cruelty to children, were arrested at their Dallas-area home Sept. 12 after 18-year-old Mitch Comer told police he had been held captive in a bedroom, where he received little food.

One day after Mitch’s birthday, his stepfather, Paul Comer, allegedly drove him to Louisiana and put him on a bus to California.

Mitch Comer told police his stepfather gave him $200 and some pamphlets on a homeless shelter before telling him not to return to the family’s home. The malnourished teen, who weighed about 87 pounds, was spotted wandering in a Los Angeles bus station by a former officer, who contacted police.

Los Angeles investigators then contacted Paulding County sheriff’s deputies, who traveled to California to take over the case, Cpl. Ashley Henson with the Paulding Sheriff’s Office previously said. The teen was returned to Georgia last week, and his two sisters, ages 11 and 13, have been placed in protective custody, Henson said.

On Friday, FBI, GBI and local investigators spent nearly three hours searching the Comers’ two-story home. Though specific findings weren’t released, Henson said investigators had “every reason to believe” Mitch Comer’s claims.

Tuesday’s hearing was closed to the public and media to respect the privacy of the two girls, Channel 2 Action News reported. Bond hearings for Paul and Sheila Comer are set for next week.