By David Beasley
ATLANTA (Reuters) - A Georgia grand jury has returned felony indictments against the mother and stepfather of a small, thin 18-year-old who turned up at a Los Angeles bus terminal last month and told police about years of abuse and starvation at the hands of his parents.
The Paulding County grand jury handed down the indictment earlier this week against Mitch Comer's mother, Sheila Marie Comer, and stepfather, Paul Matthew Comer, on eight counts of child cruelty, false imprisonment and kidnapping.
Paul Comer was also charged with two additional counts of child cruelty for allegedly kicking his stepson in the groin and testicles and punching him in the jaw, according to the indictment supplied by the Paulding County court clerk's office.
When Los Angeles police found Mitch Comer at a bus station in September, officers at first mistook him for a 12- or 13-year-old boy, judging by his size and what they described as his "pale, gaunt" condition.
Police said the boy, who is just over five feet tall, weighed only 87 pounds (39 kg).
Comer told police that after removing him from school in the eighth grade, his stepfather shut him in a room and fed him only small amounts of food. He said when he turned 18 his stepfather had given him $200 and put him on a bus with a list of homeless shelters he had located on the Internet.
The grand jury in Paulding County Georgia where the Comer family lives charged that Paul and Sheila Comer deprived Mitch Comer of "necessary sustenance" endangering his health and causing him "excessive mental pain" by confining him to a room within their home and denying him medical care.
A judge earlier this month denied bond for the couple and they are being held in the Paulding County jail, the Paulding County Sheriff's Department said Wednesday.
(Editing by Paul Thomasch and David Storey)