16-year-old Atlanta-area resident Susana Morales was reported missing by her family on July 27, 2022. That same morning, police officer Miles Bryant claimed his gun had been stolen. Morales’ body was found along with the ex-cop’s weapon over six months later on Feb. 6, 2023, leading him to be the prime suspect in the teenager’s disappearance and death. He was soon arrested on preliminary charges of falsely reporting a crime and concealing the death of another person.
Today (Feb. 22), Gwinnett County Police Chief James D. McClure confirmed at a briefing that the evidence found at the crime scene was tied to Bryant. “He became a person of interest” after they traced the firearm back to him, “so we began watching him.”
At the time, Bryant worked for the Doraville Police Department in DeKalb County, which neighbors Gwinnett County. Once charges were brought against him, the 22-year-old was fired from the force.
According to McClure, Morales was visiting a friend at a nearby apartment complex the night of July 26. She texted her mom as she was walking home, but she never made it back. Investigators believe she was abducted between 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. and killed sometime between 10:30 p.m. and 2 a.m. Her family reported her missing the next morning at 9 a.m. Bryant declared his gun was lost at 11 a.m.
Police haven’t shared information about how the girl died, but the chief noted that she was not shot. The culprit, meanwhile, is in custody at Gwinnett County Jail.
McClure announced in the Feb. 22 press conference that it was elevating its case given the new discoveries. “We have reached the threshold to where these charges have been upgraded to felony murder and kidnapping,” he said. “We have a very solid case and we’re very confident.”