Paulding abuse case | Comers investigated in 2009

More than three years before their arrests for allegedly locking their son in a room with little food, Paul and Sheila Comer were investigated for possible abuse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution learned Wednesday.

In February 2009, an informant reported information to the Department of Family and Children Services regarding the couple’s son, Mitch, who was 14 years old at the time, according to a Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office incident report, obtained by the AJC.

DFCS referred the case to the sheriff’s office for additional investigation, but the case was closed and no criminal charges were filed. Specifics regarding the agencies’ investigations, including who reported the abuse, cannot be released due to privacy laws.

“The reporter stated that the son said his parents frequently make him get on his knees near a wall and lean over and rest his head on the wall and place his hands behind his head sometimes up to six hours,” the Cherokee County report states. “The son also reported this father spanks him with a belt for no reason at all.”

Paul and Sheila Comer, now Paulding County residents, were arrested Sept. 12 after 18-year-old Mitch, weighing less than 90 pounds, was found in a Los Angeles bus station. The teenager has told police his parents locked him inside a room with little food for several years.

On Sept. 8, the day after Mitch turned 18, his stepfather allegedly drove him to a Louisiana bus station, where he gave him $200 and some pamphlets for a homeless shelter before putting him on a bus to California. Three days later, the emaciated teenager was found wandering and confused in a bus station and taken to police, who then contacted the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office.

The next day, Sept. 12, the Comers were arrested at their two-story rental home near Dallas. The couple, who has no criminal history, remained Wednesday in the Paulding County jail without bond. Two daughters, ages 11 and 13, have been in protective custody since the time of the parents’ arrests.

Investigators have not released information regarding what was found inside the Comers’ home during a three-hour search Friday. But items were found to corroborate the teenager’s story, Cpl. Ashley Henson with the Paulding sheriff’s office said.

Henson has said additional charges are expected against the couple.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.