Detective: Malnourished teen locked in bathroom for 1 year



PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. - A Paulding County couple locked their son in a bathroom for one year, according to testimony from a detective.

Channel 2’s Aaron Diamant was in a court Thursday as a judge listened to testimony from a detective investigating the case against Paul and Sheila Comer.

By the end of the six-hour hearing, prosecutors were not mincing words.

"This is one of the most vile and reprehensible acts that the state has seen in a long time," prosecutor Tom Cole said.

Paul and Sheila Comer sat shackled, accused of keeping Sheila's now 18-year-old son, Mitch, locked up with little food for years inside their Dallas home under punishing conditions.

"Here's the wall. Mitch was on his knees. Mitch was made to put his forehead on the wall with his hands behind his head," Detective Kyle Shelton of the Paulding County Sheriff's Office said as he testified the Comers left the teen locked in a tiny bathroom for a year.

Shelton testified that Mitch was also locked in a bedroom with only a urine-soaked mattress for nearly another year while his two half-sisters lived in the same house.

"His siblings have heard him cry and scream for food and the bathroom," Detective Sgt. Kevin Morgan of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office said during testimony.

"How often?" Scott Smith, Paul Comer's attorney asked the detective.

"They describe it as fairly often," Morgan answered.

The judge bound the case over to state court, but delayed setting bond until detectives figure out why the Comers have moved around so much.

"We knew that it was an uphill battle based upon the public attention that this case has received," Smith said.

"It is my opinion that all of this is going to rise or fall on credibility," Renee Rockwell, Sheila Comer's attorney, said.

Rockwell said the five-day suspension that detectives said Mitch got in 2009 while attending a Cherokee County middle school was for making a sexual remark to another student casts doubt on his story of abuse.

"So you really think Mitch made this all up?" Diamant asked Rockwell.

"I think Mitch got to the point that he was a recluse," Rockwell answered.

The next hearing for the Comers has been scheduled for Oct. 25.

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