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Ex-Doraville Police officer indicted for murder in death of 16-year-old girl

An arrest warrant last month alleged he had dumped Morales' naked body in the woods and later his initial charges were upgraded to felony murder and kidnapping.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — An ex-police officer in Doraville has now been indicted and faces the most serious murder charge in Georgia for the death of Susana Morales.

Miles Bryant, 22, was arrested in the case and and terminated from the Doraville Police Department in February. The arrest warrant alleged he had dumped the 16-year-old's naked body in the woods and later his initial charges were upgraded to felony murder and kidnapping.

Now a Gwinnett County grand jury indictment lodges four charges against Bryant: malice murder, Georgia's most serious murder charge; felony murder, kidnapping and false report of a crime.

The false report charge stems from when he said last summer his personal car had been broken into and a gun was taken from inside. Bryant was denied bond by a judge last month.

Morales had been missing for more than six months before her body was found in February.

RELATED: Bond denied for ex-Doraville officer facing murder, kidnapping charges in 16-year-old's death

In a previous press conference, Gwinnett Police Chief J.D. McClure laid out a timeline of events and how police Bryant killed Morales.

He said on July 26, 2022, she went to visit a friend in a nearby apartment complex and that she was taken between 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. while returning home. He said police believe that she was killed sometime by 2 a.m.

Morales was reported missing the next morning, July 27, at 9 a.m.

"By the time she was reported missing we have every reason to believe that Susana was deceased," McClure said.

He also said there was "no indication" Morales had been shot to death. 

"We don't definitively know (how she died), we're still investigating. What we do know is she died at the hands of Miles Bryant," McClure said.

The chief said that investigators have not established if Morales and Bryant previously knew each other.

"We have looked at the idea if there was some type of knowledge or relationship, but so far we have not made that connection. We do not know if she knew or was familiar with Bryant in any capacity," he said.

McClure added that Bryant lived and served as a courtesy officer at the apartment complex where Morales had gone to visit.

Asked about a motive, the chief responded: "I don't want to speak to motive at this time, again we're still investigating."

The chief acknowledged previous incidents involving Bryant - pointing to one in 2018 in which he had allegedly tried to enter a neighbor's home through the window, and allegations in December that he tried to enter a residence (a woman has told 11Alive Bryant was stalking her) - but said he was not suspected of any other violent crimes rising to the murder of Morales.

McClure also addressed criticisms from the Hispanic community that the department had not treated the case - as well as other recent ones involving young Hispanic people - seriously enough.

"I take exception to that assertion," he said. "The Gwinnet County Police Department has a long track record of providing professional law enforcement services in our community, we value the sanctity of human life and our mission is to provide professional law enforcement services in an unbiased and compassionate manner to all our citizens. And that's what we do."

Police had originally considered her a runaway and said there was no indication she was held against her will; no signs of abduction or physical assault.

Her remains were found in early February near the Gwinnett-Barrow county line. Police have accused Bryant of dumping her naked body into the woods.

Jasmine, Morales' sister, spoke to 11Alive about Susana.

“I want her to be remembered for her kind soul. She was sweet and nice," Jasmine said. 

Jasmine had a strong message for former officer Bryant. 

“He doesn't know what's coming for him," Jasmine said. "I promise that everything comes to play, and we'll know everything soon. Everybody is going to get what they deserve at the end of the day. If it's not here, it'll be up there.” 


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