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Susana Morales’ Sister Slams Cops Over Handling Of Teen's Disappearance: 'Police Dismissed Us'
Susana Morales was last seen alive on July 26, 2022, when she left a friend's house. Her remains were found on Feb. 6 in Gwinnett County and former police officer Miles Bryant is facing felony murder and kidnapping charges.
The family of a Georgia teen who was found dead last month and allegedly killed by a former cop is slamming authorities for not immediately treating it as a missing persons case.
Susana Morales, 16, was last seen alive on the evening of July 26, 2022, when she left a friend's house. Her remains were found on Feb. 6 in a wooded area of Gwinnett County, and charges against Miles Bryant, formerly an officer with the Doraville Police Department, were upgraded to felony murder and kidnapping after a gun he had reported missing was allegedly found near Morales' remains. He had initially been charged with concealing a death and falsely reporting a crime.
In a new petition posted online by the teen's family this week, her sister, Jasmine Morales, slams the Gwinnett County Police Department for not taking the family's pleas to investigate this as a missing person's case seriously, claiming authorities dismissed them and treated it as a runaway situation.
"On Tuesday, July 26, Susana was with our family all day and later that night, decided to go to a friend’s house," Jasmine wrote in the petition. "Her friend lived in the neighborhood, a 9-minute walk from our house, and she spent the evening there until around 9:40 PM when she texted our mom letting us know she was on the way home. This was a walk she had done many times, and we were waiting for her arrival. At 10 PM, she still wasn’t home. We knew something went wrong."
Jasmine added that the family "begged Gwinnett County police to look for her, but they told us that people aren’t considered missing until after 48 hours."
"We knew we couldn’t wait that long," the grieving sister wrote. "Throughout the entire investigation, the police dismissed us and said that she was a runaway when we knew she would never do that. How could she run away when she was on her way home?"
Jasmine's post adds that the family was notified on Feb. 8 that the remains found in the woods two days earlier belonged to Morales. "It took the police department more than 6 months to find any leads regarding her disappearance until earlier this year they began to ask us for more details," Jasmine wrote.
"They told us that an unrelated driver had pulled over on the road to take a phone call, and ended up walking into the woods where her body was found," she added. "Five days later, on February 13th, they arrested a suspect, a now former Doraville County Police Officer, Miles Bryant. Miles Bryant has a history of stalking, harassing, and being wildly inappropriate to women and girls, and he was a proud police officer who also acted as 'security' for the apartment complex he lived in."
Jasmine noted that Bryant lived in the same complex that the friend Morales was visiting on the night she disappeared lived in. "After being taken into custody, a woman came out saying Miles Bryant had stalked and harassed her for a year, and even kicked her door in," Jasmine wrote. "The police never did anything about her case, and are looking into re-opening it after his arrest over the murder of Susana Morales. We are still seeking justice."
Morales' family added, "We want the Doraville County Police Department to be held accountable for knowingly hiring a man with a history of violence, and for not taking accountability for the harm their officer has committed against any sister, my family, and the other women he has victimized."
The teen's loved ones are asking for members of the public to sign their petition and have called on the Doraville Police Department to conduct a "fair and transparent investigation." They've also demanded that the Gwinnett County Police Department acknowledge "that Title 35 of the Georgia Code was violated when the officers told us to wait 48 hours before reporting Susana missing."
Title 35 states that, "No law enforcement agency shall implement a policy or practice which mandates a minimum waiting period before initiating a missing person report with such agency; provided, however, that it shall remain within the discretion of the law enforcement agency to determine what action, if any, is required in response to such a report."
Morales' family is also asking that the process for missing minors be evaluated and changed to give more transparency to family members.
"Based on our investigation, it is believed that Susana was initially kidnapped by Miles Bryant on July 26, 2022 around 10 p.m. and we took a report of missing person at approximately 9 a.m. July 27," the Gwinnett County Police Department told Oxygen.com in a statement Friday.
The department also directed Oxygen.com to a statement put out last month, reading, "Our detectives have continuously worked on Susana Morales's case since we received it. We have kept in constant contact with Susana's family and told them what was happening in the case. On the day Susana was reported missing, our officers conducted a canvass at several locations where people said she might be but did not find any leads."
Gwinnett County police also stated that they spent the summer and fall gathering phone data, interviewing multiple people and speaking to officials at Morales' school, as well as passing out a description of her and photos to all law enforcement agencies in the Southeast.
The department said that missing and runaway juveniles are investigated in the same way. "No biases are established when the juvenile is missing or is a runaway, and the only goal is to confirm the safety and well-being of the missing individual," it stated.
Though the gun that was registered to Bryant and that he reported stolen from his car on July 27 of last year was found near Morales' body, authorities have said that Morales did not appear to be shot. They have yet to determine how she died.