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LAPD detectives uncover 'bizarre and tragic' abuse case

September 20, 2012 |  9:11 pm

Paul ComerA couple in Georgia has been taken into custody on suspicion of child abuse and false imprisonment after their malnourished son was discovered at a downtown Los Angeles bus station last week, the Los Angeles Police Department said Thursday.

Authorities called it a "bizarre and tragic child abuse case" that started Sept. 11, when 18-year-old Mitch Comer arrived at the Greyhound Bus Station on East 7th Street.

Retired LAPD Sgt. Joe Gonzalez, who was working security at the station, discovered Comer. Police described him as pale, standing just over 5 feet tall and weighing 87 pounds. Thinking he was a missing child, Gonzalez called police.

Comer explained to officers that his stepfather had given him $200 and a list of homeless shelters, then put him on the bus in Jackson, Miss.

The teen was interviewed further by LAPD Det. Dan Gersna. Comer gave limited details of the abuse he had endured for the past four years, authorities said.Sheila Comer

Comer told the detective that his stepfather, Paul Comer, 48, had removed him from the eighth grade and eventually locked him in a room and never allowed him to leave, police said.

He told the detective that he was fed small quantities of food and for eight hours every day was forced to put the top of his head against a wall and stand on his toes with his fingers interlaced behind his head, according to police.

Comer also told the detective that he had two younger sisters back home. Although Comer didn't know where he lived, Gersna was able to trace his residency after tracking the business owned by Comer's stepfather.

Gersna then notified detectives at Paulding County Sheriff's Department in Georgia, who later arrested Comer's stepfather and mother, Sheila. Mitch Comer's siblings were placed in protective custody.

"I'm greatly relieved and thankful that one of our retired officers brought this victim to our attention and started the process to uncover these heartbreaking circumstances," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. "Without the intervention of retired Sgt. Gonzalez, Mitch Comer and his young sisters would still be suffering."

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact LAPD Newton Division detectives at (323) 846-6556 or the Paulding County Sheriff's Department's Crimes Against Children Division at (770) 445-610.


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Photos: Paul Comer, top left; Sheila Comer, bottom right. Credit: Los Angeles Police Department