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Phoenix Father Arrested in Death of Malnourished, Dehydrated Daughter

By Web Staff

PHOENIX, Arizona (KTVK)—A father of a Phoenix woman who died of malnutrition and dehydration last year has been arrested and charged.

Police arrested 46-year-old Richard Comer Friday in the death of his 21-year-old daughter, Vanessa Comer.

On July of 2018, police say that Vanessa was brought to a local hospital in a “severe state of malnutrition and dehydration” by her father, who was also her caretaker.

Police added that Vanessa was diagnosed “with a serious medical condition and was completely dependent on Richard for total care, nutrition, and transportation for her doctor visits.”

Over a three month period, police say that Richard had failed to provide any such care until sending Vanessa to the hospital.

Police say Richard had found his daughter unresponsive in a trailer near 27th Avenue and Deer Valley Road.

Richard Comer
Richard Comer. (Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office)

During Phoenix police’s investigation, they received a notice from the Maricopa Office of the Medical Examiner that Vanessa’s death was ruled a homicide.

On Friday, officers located and arrested Richard.

He was booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail on a count each of second-degree murder and vulnerable adult abuse.

They also are recommending animal abuse charges against Comer after two malnourished and dehydrated dogs were found in the trailer home he shared with his ailing daughter.

It was unclear Monday if he had a lawyer yet to speak on his behalf about the case.

Couple Starved 16-Year-Old Daughter to Death, Sentenced to Life

In a similar story earlier this year, an Iowa couple guilty of starving their adopted daughter to death when she was 16 years old has been sentenced to prison where they will likely spend the rest of their lives.

Marc Ray, 43, was sentenced to 80 years, and his wife, Misty Jo Bousman Ray, 41, was sentenced to life on Jan. 18 for the death of Sabrina Ray, who was their oldest adopted daughter.

On May 12, 2017, police arrived at the couple’s home in Perry, Iowa, to find Sabrina’s adopted sisters, 12 and 14 at the time, in a room with her lifeless body. That same day, Marc and Misty Ray were with their sons at Disney World in Florida.

Sabrina, who was 16 at the time of her death, had been severely malnourished and weighed just 56 pounds—around the healthy weight for an 8-year-old girl.

In a report sighted by the Des Moines Register, one of the officers who had witnessed the scene that day, Josh Sienkiewicz, called the home “the most horrific scene in my entire career and life.”

“It is hard to put into words the feelings that come over me—the smells, the pain, the anguish, the fear, and the evil,” he said.

The Des Moines Register reported that Judge Terry Rickers, who handed the sentences to the couple, told them at the Dallas County Courthouse in Adel on Jan. 18 that their treatment of their adopted daughters was “cruel and evil.”

“Sabrina’s sisters were forced to watch her slowly and agonizingly die,” Rickers said.

“Sabrina lies there, malnourished, emaciated, diaper-clad, covered in various wounds and bruises. Her rash and skin barely cover her skeleton … Mr. Ray and Mrs. Ray, your actions and your treatments of your daughters in this case could be fairly described as both cruel and evil.”

In December 2018, Marc Ray pleaded guilty to child endangerment resulting in death, and three counts of third-degree kidnapping, for having illegally confined his three adopted daughters. On Jan. 9, Misty Ray pleaded guilty to first-degree kidnapping and two counts of third-degree kidnapping for having confined Sabrina’s two adopted sisters. Each of them will be ordered to pay restitution, which will include $150,000 to Sabrina’s heirs.

The CNN Wire and NTD News reporter Mimi Nguyen-Ly contributed to this report.