DALLAS, Ga. (AP) — An 18-year-old who says he was confined to a room in a Georgia home with little food for years was so malnourished he still had his baby teeth and looked far younger than his age, a detective testified Thursday.
"I thought he was a 12-year-old boy," said Detective Kevin Morgan with the Paulding County Sheriff's Office. The teen stood 5 feet, 1 inch and weighed 87 pounds when he was found in downtown Los Angeles. The teen's skin was translucent, and he told investigators he hadn't seen the sun in two years, Morgan said.
Mitch Comer's stepfather, Paul Comer, and mother, Sheila Comer, were arrested last month and face charges of cruelty to children and false imprisonment. They appeared in Paulding County Magistrate Court on Thursday for a probable cause hearing dressed in orange and white striped jail suits with their ankles and wrists chained.
Mitch Comer told investigators he was confined to a bathroom and a bedroom for years and wasn't fed often, occasionally getting soup or cereal but little of substance, Morgan said. The Comers' two daughters, who are 11 and 13, told investigators they heard him cry and scream for food often, Morgan said.
Paul and Sheila Comer, who had lived in the house 14 months, told investigators that Mitch was confined to the room.
"They both conceded that that was his life," Morgan said.
Paul Comer told investigators he brought Mitch Comer food at 7 a.m., noon and 7 p.m. each day and fed him whatever the family was eating.
On Sept. 11, a retired police sergeant working security at a downtown Los Angeles bus station noticed Mitch Comer. Police decided to investigate further because the teen looked much younger than the 18 years he claimed, Los Angeles police said last month. The teen told authorities he had suffered from years of abuse after being taken out of school in the eighth grade.
He told authorities his stepfather gave him $200 and a list of homeless shelters before he was put on a bus to Los Angeles on his 18th birthday. Paul Comer told investigators Mitch Comer wanted to be an actor.
Arrest warrants filed in Georgia say 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."