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Crime News Murders

Charges Against Ex-Cop Upgraded To Felony Murder In Death Of Georgia Teen

Doraville police officer Miles Bryant, 22, is now charged with felony murder and kidnapping in the July death of 16-year-old Susana Morales.

By Christina Coulter
Ex-Cop Charged In Murder Of Missing Georgia Teen

Charges against a former Georgia police officer have been upgraded to murder in the death of 16-year-old Susana Morales, whose remains were found in a wooded area in Gwinnett County earlier this month. 

Miles Bryant, 22, was initially charged with concealing a body and falsely reporting a crime. Gwinnett County Police Chief J.D. McClure announced Wednesday that Bryant now faces charges of felony murder and kidnapping, according to NBC News. Police said a gun registered to Bryant, which he had reported stolen from his vehicle around 11 a.m. on July 27 of last year, was found 'in close proximity" to the missing teen's body.

However, it doesn't appear that Morales was shot, authorities said – her cause of death is still being determined.

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Morales was last seen on July 26 – the teen's 9:40 p.m. text to her mother saying she was on her way home that evening was her last correspondence. She was reported missing the following morning when she didn't return home. Cell phone data and security footage showed Morales walking toward her home in Norcross between 10:07 and 10:21 p.m., authorities said. Police believe that at that time she may have gotten into a car, which they suspect was driven by Bryant.

A police handout of missing juvenile Susana Morales

Bryant did not appear to know Morales previously, police said. But an arrest warrant cited by NBC Atlanta affiliate WXIA-TV states Bryant lives on Windscape Village Lane in Norcross, where Morales vanished.

Bryant served as an officer in the Doraville Police Department since 2021. He was fired from his post after Doraville officials learned of the initial charges against him.

Bryant was disciplined on two occasions during his tenure at the Doraville Police Department, according to his personnel file obtained by WSB-TV.

A fellow officer reported that in November 2021, an off-duty Bryant "pressed out his hands as if he was holding a handgun and pointing it at me." Bryant was in street clothes at the time and the alarmed officer said he began reaching for his weapon, but then recognized Bryant as a co-worker.

Bryant allegedly told the other officer to "keep his head on a swivel." He received a two-day suspension, according to WBS-TV.

In another instance, Bryant responded to a call for a runaway child on October 2 of last year, months after Morales' disappearance. Bryant waited three days to finish a police report documenting the child's disappearance even though federal law requires that a report is completed within 2 hours.

McClure said authorities are still investigating a potential motive in Morales' death.

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