Join our brand new verified AMN Telegram channel and get important news uncensored!

Ex-Georgia officer accused of killing teen now charged with attempted rape

Susana Morales, 16, went missing the evening of July 26, 2022. Her body was found just over six months later, more than 20 miles from where she was last seen. A former Doraville, Georgia, police officer has been arrested in connection with her death. (Rosana Hughes/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

A former Doraville police officer accused of killing a Gwinnett County girl and hiding her body in the woods near a creek in 2022 now faces an additional charge: attempted rape.

Miles Bryant, 23, was arrested last year, nearly seven months after 16-year-old Susana Morales went missing from her Norcross home. She had gone to a friend’s nearby house and disappeared while walking home the evening of July 26, 2022. Her body was found in February of the following year in a wooded area near Drowning Creek just outside Dacula, more than 20 miles from where she was last seen.

Investigators still do not know how she died.

Bryant was reindicted last week to add the attempted rape charge. He also faces a charge of malice murder, felony murder, kidnapping and false report of a crime. He will have a second arraignment hearing Feb. 1, according to court records. He previously pleaded not guilty following his first indictment.

While Bryant lived — and served as a security officer — at the same apartment complex where Morales had been visiting her friend, police have said there was no known connection between the two. Authorities said he was connected to the crime when his personal gun was found in the area where Morales’ remains were discovered by a passerby. He had reported it stolen hours after the teen’s disappearance.

Her mother, Maria Bran, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Morales was a happy teenager who wanted to become an undercover detective.

In addition to Morales’ killing, the former officer faces several allegations of troubling conduct, ranging from unrelated burglary charges to at least two instances of workplace misconduct for which he received reprimands.

Bryant began his career in law enforcement in 2020 as a jailer with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, according to records kept by Georgia’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Council. He then joined Doraville police in 2021 and was fired Feb. 13, 2023, the same day as his arrest.

In November 2021, Bryant received a 12-hour suspension after being “disrespectful” toward another Doraville officer, according to documents previously obtained by the AJC. He allegedly approached the officer’s patrol vehicle while stretching his arms as if holding a firearm and told the officer something “to the effect of ‘Keep your head on a swivel.’”

A year later, he received a written reprimand after failing to submit a missing person report within the two-hour limit mandated by the National Crime Information Center.

Snellville police also charged Bryant with first-degree burglary in connection with a 2019 break-in at the home of his high school classmate, the AJC previously reported. Police said the classmate’s mother had surveillance footage showing then-18-year-old Bryant walking through her family’s home after tampering with the lock on her child’s bedroom window, though nothing appeared to have been stolen.

The family recognized him after his arrest and alerted authorities, and investigators determined there was enough evidence to charge him.

Then, in December 2022, a woman filed a report with Gwinnett police after she recognized Bryant in security footage given to her by a neighbor who warned her that someone “tried to break into her apartment,” documents showed. Bryant was never charged. A Doraville police sergeant determined that the woman “misinterpreted” his gesture “to check on her well-being” after Bryant explained that he stopped by to check on the woman, whom he’d known since elementary school, due to her making “a questionable post on social media that worried him.”

Bryant’s arrest angered many in the community who felt the police didn’t take the teen’s disappearance as seriously as they should have. Her mother said she believes her daughter’s remains may have been found sooner if the case wasn’t treated like a runaway. The Gwinnett police department has defended its handling of the investigation, stating that detectives followed all leads beginning the night she was reported missing.


© 2024 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.