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Warrants reveal shocking details about why cop was accused of concealing death of missing teen found ‘naked’ in Georgia woods

Susana Morales, Miles Bryant

Susana Morales (Gwinnett Police Department), Miles Bryant (Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office)

Arrest warrants obtained by Law&Crime have shed more light on why a since-fired police officer in Georgia has been accused of crimes in connection with the July 2022 disappearance and subsequent death of a 16-year-old girl.

On Monday, authorities in Gwinnett County announced charges against former Doraville Police Department officer Miles Bryant for allegedly concealing the death of Susana Morales. Investigators also noted that Bryant was charged with false report of a crime.

The underlying documents in the case, while not lengthy in detail, clarify the state’s theory of the case.

Detective Angela Carter applied for an arrest warrant, documents show, and said that Bryant, of Norcross, lived “in close proximity to [the] victim and dumped her naked body in the woods.”

The detective said that the accused “is known or suspected of” rape, murder, and other felonies. As of Wednesday, authorities have not filed rape or murder charges. Concealing the death of another in the state of Georgia is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison upon conviction; a false report of a crime is a misdemeanor offense.

Additional and more serious charges may follow once the investigation into the manner and cause of Morales’ death is completed. The victim was identified through DNA testing and dental records, The Associated Press reported.

The affidavit accompanying the warrant application revealed that investigators are focusing on the time period between July 26, 2022, at 10:20 p.m. to 1:40 a.m. on July 27, 2022. Authorities believe Bryant concealed Morales’ death during those hours, unlawfully “hindering the discovery of whether or not such person was unlawfully killed.”

The warrants also explained why Bryant was charged with the false report of a crime.

“Accused did, 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,” the warrant said. Documents listed Bryant’s vehicle as a black Ford F-150.

The initial charges against Bryant came after investigators confirmed Morales’ remains were found in a wooded area along Highway 316. That discovery was made more than six months after Morales’ family reported her missing.

“On Monday, Feb 06, 2023, shortly after 6:30 p.m., Gwinnett Police responded to Hwy 316 between Drowning Creek and the Barrow County Line after receiving a call from a passerby stating they saw what they believed to be human remains in the woods,” police said earlier this week in an update on the investigation. “Detectives and CSI responded to the scene, and the Gwinnett Medical Examiners’ office took possession of the remains. Detectives are investigating the manner and cause of death of Morales.”

On the night Morales was last seen alive, authorities said, she texted her mom that she was on her way home.

“On Tuesday, Jul 26, 2022, Morales texted her mom at 9:40 p.m., saying she was on her way home. At approximately 10:00 p.m., Morales had not returned home. A location application showed Morales walking on Singleton Road to her home from Windscape Village Lane between 10:07 p.m. and 10:21 p.m. Morales was last seen wearing light blue jeans, a yellow spaghetti-strapped shirt, and white crocs,” cops said. “Between 10:21 p.m. and 10:26 p.m., Morales’s cell phone indicates that her last known location was at Oak Loch Trace near Steve Reynolds. Morales’s cell phone continued to show being in the area of Oak Loch Trace until the cell phone died or was turned off.”

The details about the victim’s cellphone activity are consistent with the timeline that investigators cited in the warrant application. On the warrant, the investigating detective checked off a box indicating that Bryant and Morales did not know one another.

In January, police said video evidence from Morales’ cellphone indicated she “may have gotten into a vehicle” when walking in the direction of her home. It’s unclear if that vehicle is the black Ford F-150 said to belong to Bryant.

The Doraville Police Department, for its part, has confirmed that Bryant is no longer employed there.

“The City of Doraville was notified the afternoon of Monday, February 13 that a now former police officer was being served felony arrest warrants by the Gwinnett Police Department in connection with the disappearance and murder of Susana Morales. The City of Doraville and its Police Department are fully cooperating with the Gwinnett Police Department in its investigation of Mr. Bryant,” a statement from the department said. “Our prayers rest with the family and friends of Susana Morales and everyone else affected by this tragedy.”

Bryant remains jailed in Gwinnett County without bail after a judge declined to release him from detention on Tuesday. It’s unclear if the defendant has an attorney of record at this time.

At least one of Bryant’s neighbors spoke with 11 Alive and said he was “very normal, just smiling laughing, living his life” over the last six months, even as Morales “laid out in a field somewhere” some 20 miles away from where she went missing.

“Are you serious, how can you be that cold-hearted? How is somebody that cold-hearted?” the neighbor reportedly asked.

Morales’ grieving sister Jasmine reportedly told the local news situation that the details of what allegedly happened are “unbelievable.” She said she was at a loss for words.

“It sucks that it took so long but I guess with him being an officer has something to do with that,” Jasmine Morales reportedly said.

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.