CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. -- There is mounting evidence the Cherokee County DFACS and the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office had previously investigated the family of a young man who says he was held prisoner in his own home for years.
That case was closed for lack of evidence, but there are questions about whether it was a missed opportunity -- a mistake that may have condemned that young man to years of additional abuse.
On March 6, 2009, Cherokee County Sheriff's deputies join a DFACS investigation into allegations of abuse against the Comer family.
The Comers were living at their Cherokee County home, when their teenage son Mitch told someone that his father Paul was physically abusive, beating him with a belt and forcing him to kneel against the wall of his room for hours at a time.
As troubling as the allegations were, sheriff's deputies said they couldn't find any evidence, and ultimately closed the case. A month later, Mitch's parents pulled him out of Creekland Middle School. That's the last time, investigators say, the teen was enrolled in school.
For the next four years, Mitch claims he was held hostage in his own home -- his isolation so complete, his own sisters who lived with him told police they rarely, if ever, saw him.
Mitch re-surfaced on September 11 of this year at a Greyhound Station in Los Angeles. The malnourished teen told police his father had bought him a bus ticket, gave him $200 and a list of homeless shelters in LA and told him never to come back.
DFACS is not commenting on the case. That is the agency's blanket policy regarding privacy. But the report raises a number of troubling questions -- the allegations are striking similar to the story Mitch would tell police nearly four years later.
Which leaves a final, unanswered question: "Could Mitch's abuse have been prevented?"