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Crime News

Former Cop Charged In Connection With Missing Georgia Teen Found Dead In Woods

Miles Bryant is accused of concealing the death of 16-year-old Susana Morales, who disappeared while walking home from a friend's house more than six months ago.

By Jax Miller

A Georgia police officer is charged with concealing the death of a 16-year-old girl who disappeared months ago.

Miles Bryant, 22, was booked Monday on charges of concealing a body and falsely reporting a crime in connection with the July 2022 disappearance of Susana Morales, per Fox Atlanta affiliate WAGA-TV. His arrest comes one week after a passerby found Morales’ naked body in a wooded area near Dacula — about 40 miles northeast of Atlanta, as announced by Gwinnett County officials.

“The tragic discovery of Susana’s remains this week was not the outcome anyone wanted in this case,” said county officials. “Finding out what happened is one of our top priorities.”

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So far, the teen’s cause and manner of death are still being determined, according to CNN.

Morales left her Norcross home on July 26 at around 6:00 p.m. to walk toward a friend’s home, according to county officials. Investigators say cell phone data and video footage showed Morales walking toward the friend’s residence but “detectives have reason to believe she may have gotten into a vehicle.”

The teen texted her mother at around 9:40 p.m. to say she was on her way home but never arrived. A location app on Morales’ phone led authorities to believe she had walked from Windscape Village Lane toward the direction of her home until her phone died or turned off at around 10:26 p.m. near Steve Reynolds Boulevard in Norcross.

An arrest warrant cited by NBC Atlanta affiliate WXIA-TV states Bryant lives on Windscape Village Lane in Norcross, where Morales vanished.

A police handout of missing juvenile Susana Morales

Bryant allegedly concealed Morales’ death the night she disappeared and is accused of “hindering the discovery of whether or not such a person was unlawfully killed,” according to arrest warrants reviewed by CBS Atlanta affiliate WANF. The following day, investigators say Bryant “willfully and knowingly gave a false report of a crime to a law enforcement officer by falsely reporting that his vehicle was broken into and his gun was stolen.”

Gwinnett County Police spokesperson Hideshi Valle told WAGA-TV, “Detectives developed enough probable cause to get an arrest today, but the investigation is still ongoing.”

According to multiple local news outlets, Bryant served as a police officer for Doraville, which lies between Atlanta and Dacula near Norcross, since 2021. He was fired Monday after city officials learned of the charges against him, according to CNN.

“The City of Doraville and its Police Department are fully cooperating with the Gwinnett Police Department and its investigation of Mr. Bryant,” the city stated in a Monday release. “Our prayers rest with the family and friends of Susana Morales and everyone else affected by this tragedy.”

Bryant was fired from his position with the police department in the wake of the allegations, authorities told CNN.

Since the discovery of Morales’ body, several national news outlets reported a possible connection between the death of Morales and the death of Norcross teen Rodrigo Mayen Floriano, both of whom attended Meadowcreek High School and were found hours apart from one another, though investigators dismissed speculation.

A police handout of Miles Bryant

“Both cases involved the tragic death of a teen from the Norcross area, but otherwise, these cases are not related,” said county officials. “Rodrigo’s death was ruled an overdose by the Gwinnett Medical Examiner’s office, and at this time, Susana’s cause of death is unknown.”

A 17-year-old male was charged with concealing Rodrigo’s death, according to WANF.

Detectives say they’ve “continuously worked” Morales’ case since day one, including local canvassing and chasing leads by people who claimed to know where investigators could find the teen’s body to no avail.

“Over the course of last summer and fall, detectives collected phone data, interviewed multiple people who may have had information, and spoke to officials at her school and the school resource officer,” according to detectives. “In addition, detectives disseminated Susana’s photos and description to all law enforcement agencies in the southeastern United States.”

Officials say they responded to “multiple legitimate and hoax sightings” and “debunked multiple false ransom hoaxes from unscrupulous individuals attempting to get money from Susana’s family.”

Morales’ sister, Jasmine Morales, told the CBS affiliate she is grateful for the arrest.

“A really hard, final goodbye, and just seeing her being buried, is something we didn’t want,” the sister stated. “But we got good news today, so that gave us hope.”

Bryant is expected to make his first courtroom appearance Tuesday morning.

Investigators hope anyone with information will contact the Gwinnett County Police Department at 1-770-513-5200 or submit an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta at 1-404-577-TIPS (8477).