LOS ANGELES — A scrawny Georgia teen who was discovered at a bus station told police his abusive stepfather gave him $200 and a list of homeless shelters before he was put on a bus to Los Angeles on this 18th birthday, authorities said Thursday.
Retired Los Angeles police Sgt. Joe Gonzalez was working security at a downtown bus station Sept. 11 when he spotted Mitch Comer, who stood just over 5 feet tall, weighed 87 pounds and looked much younger, LAPD said in a news release Thursday.
Comer told Gonzalez his stepfather declared that he was now a man before putting the teen on a bus.
Because he was so childlike, police worried that he wasn’t as old as he claimed and decided to investigate. The teen told authorities he had suffered years of abuse after being taken out of school in the eighth grade.
Confined to a room with little food, Comer said, he had two younger sisters whom he had almost never seen.
Authorities in Los Angeles contacted law enforcement in Georgia, where Paulding County sheriff’s deputies had to track down Comer’s stepfather, Paul Comer, and mother, Sheila Marie Comer, because the isolated teen didn’t know his address.
After being interviewed, they were arrested on charges of child abuse and false imprisonment, the LAPD said.
Comer was flown back to Georgia this week to participate in the investigation and legal proceedings. Monica Moore, an investigator for the Paulding County district attorney’s office, accompanied him home and described him to WSB-TV as small and very timid, but exceedingly polite.
District Attorney Dick Donovan told the station his office struggled to find an agency willing to take in the teen because he is legally an adult, but a local family agreed to house him.
His younger sisters, ages 11 and 13, were taken into protective custody by Paulding County Children’s Services, the Journal-Constitution reported.