Warrant application: Georgia officer 'dumped' missing 16-year-old girl's body in woods

A warrant application for the arrest of a former Doraville police officer charged with concealing the death of 16-year-old Susana Morales reveals new details into what police happened with the teen's disappearance

Morales had been missing since last July. Now Gwinnett detectives say 22-year-old Miles Bryant of Norcross hid the teen's death and then lied about it.

"This is a very tragic incident and not just for our community, but the law enforcement community as well," Gwinnett County Police spokesperson Officer Hideshi Valle told FOX 5 on Monday. "Gwinnett Police is determined to get all of the facts and all of the information to get justice regardless of who the individual is."

Miles Bryant

Miles Bryant (Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office)

Morales' family members told police they hadn't seen her since the evening of July 26. That night, detectives said Morales texted her mom at 9:40 p.m. to tell her she was on her way to her home on Santa Anna Drive. Officials confirmed an app on Morales' cell phone showed that she was walking in that direction on Singleton Road from Windscape Village Lane between 10:07 p.m. and 10:21 p.m., but detectives said they have reason to believe she had actually gotten into a vehicle.

Between 10:21 p.m. and 10:26 p.m., her phone indicated that she was in the area of Oak Loch Trace and Steve Reynolds Boulevard. Her phone pinged that location until it either died or was turned off. Morales never made it home.

A breakthrough in the case came on Feb. 6, when officers responded to the area between Drowning Creek and Barrow County after someone reported seeing what they believed were human remains in the forest.

The Gwinnett Medical Examiners' office tested the remains and said the DNA matched Morales' dental records. The site was about 20 miles from where the teen was last seen.

In the warrant application, officials allege that Bryant lives close to where Morales was last reported on Windscape Village Lane and dumped her naked body in the woods.

The warrant also says police suspect Bryant of rape, murder, and other felonies, though the former officer has not been charged with any of those offenses at this time. 

Bryant does face charges of concealing the death of another and false report of a crime. In the warrant, police accuse Bryant of falsely reporting that his vehicle had been broken into and that his gun was stolen.

Susana Morales, 16. (Credit: Gwinnett Police Department) (Supplied)

"The criminal investigation has been handled by the Gwinnett County Police Department, but we have been in constant communication with the Doraville Police Department and letting them know of the case," Officer Valle said.

The city of Doraville released a statement on Monday evening saying that Bryant was no longer with the force, saying:

"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.  Our prayers rest with the family and friends of Susana Morales and everyone else affected by this tragedy."

Prior to becoming a Doraville police officer, Bryant had been a sworn sheriff's deputy in Forysth County from March 2020 to May 2021.

The Gwinnett County Medical Examiner is still trying to determine Morales' cause of death.

At this time, investigators don't know what led to the teen's death and have not said if Morales and Bryant knew each other. The warrant has their relationship checked off as "none." 

A preliminary hearing for the case will take place in two to four weeks time. The investigation into her death continues.

Anyone with information to share in this case should contact Gwinnett County Police Department at 770-513-5300, or call Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta at 404-577-TIPS (8477) to remain anonymous.