GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - The Morales family said learning of 16-year-old Susana's death after months of thinking she was still missing has been difficult. They said life will never be the same without her.
"It's hard, but I feel like it was harder thinking she was out there, not knowing how she was [or] whether she was eating," said Susana's older sister Jasmine Morales. "But at least now we know where she is, and we can go see her."
Susana Morales was the youngest of three girls. Jasmine said she loved her family, singing and playing music.
Miles Bryant (Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office)
Gwinnett County police said former Doraville police officer Miles Bryant changed all that forever. The 22-year-old was charged with concealing a death and filing a false police report. According to a warrant application, Bryant is suspected, but not charged, with rape and murder. The family said the possibility is devastating.
"It hurts a lot, yeah. I just … I want to know everything, even though it won't help. I want to know everything that happened, and the only one that can tell us is the suspect," Jasmine said.
The Morales family believes this was a stranger-on-stranger crime. Police have only said the suspect lived near Susana's friend that she visited back in July, the night she set out to walk back home.
Susana Morales (Gwinnett County Police Department)
"Her destination that night was to go home. She didn't make it," Jasmine said.
Just last week a passerby found her remains in a wooded area. Police have not said how she died.
An autopsy will likely be released soon.
Miles Bryant (FOX 5 Atlanta)
FOX 5 reporter Aungelique Proctor asked Jasmine if she knew the suspect before police identified him.
"We didn't," Jasmine replied.
Proctor asked Jasmine if she thought her baby sister knew him.
"I don't think so," she said.
Susana Morales poses for pictures with her family. (Supplied)
Jasmine told FOX 5 her parents are not doing well since news broke of the arrest and warrant. She said they are still hopeful they can get her justice soon.
The family hopes those who have information on what happened will speak up.
"That's why I did a post for anybody with information to come forward, because all that can be used as evidence against him. He is the only one who knows what happened," the older sister said.
The judge said Bryant is due back in court for a preliminary hearing in four to six weeks.
What happened to Susana Morales?
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 home from Windscape Village Lane. Officials confirmed an app on Morales' cell phone showed that she was walking in that direction between 10:07 p.m. and 10:21 p.m., but detectives said they had 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.
On Feb. 6, 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 was a positive match for Morales' dental records.
On Feb. 13, the Gwinnett County Police Department charged former Doraville police officer Miles Bryant with concealing the death of 16-year-old Susana Morales.
The 22-year-old from Norcross was also charged with making a false report of a crime.
"This is a very tragic incident and not just for our community, but the law enforcement community as well," said Officer Valle. "Gwinnett Police is determined to get all of the facts and all of the information to get justice regardless of who the individual is."
Officials said he was being held at the Gwinnett Detention Center without bond.
Braynt made his first court appearance on Feb. 14. The contents of the warrant application made for his arrest was released. In it, officials alleged that Bryant lives close to where Morales was last reported on Windscape Village Lane and that he 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.