By Shaddi Abusaid
DORAVILLE, Ga. – A former Doraville police officer accused of killing a teenage girl and hiding her body near a Gwinnett County creek now faces an unrelated burglary charge, jail records show.
Miles Bryant, 22, is charged with murder in the disappearance and death of Susana Morales, a Meadowcreek High School junior who disappeared on July 26 while walking home from a friend’s house. The 16-year-old’s skeletal remains were discovered near Dacula in February, six months after her family reported her missing.
Authorities said Bryant’s personal handgun was found during a search of the area where Morales’ body was left. He had reported guns stolen hours after the teenager’s disappearance, Gwinnett Police Chief JD McClure said.
The former officer was initially fired and charged with concealing Morales’ death and making a false report of a crime. These charges were later upgraded to include kidnapping and murder.
A Gwinnett warrant filing said Bryant “lives near the victim and dumped her naked body in the woods.”
[EARLIER: Former Ga. officer charged with kidnapping and murder of 16-year-old girl]
On Wednesday, Snellville police charged him with first-degree burglary in connection with an unrelated 2019 burglary at the home of a high school classmate, Channel 2 Action News reported.
The classmate’s mother told the news station that she recognized Bryant after his recent arrest and notified authorities. Police said the woman has surveillance footage that allegedly shows the then 18-year-old Bryant walking through her family’s home after picking at the lock on her child’s bedroom window. Nothing appeared to have been stolen during the May 2019 burglary, the family told police at the time.
The homeowner filed a report and the case was assigned to a detective, but no leads could be developed and the investigation into the burglary was later closed, Snellville police said Saturday. Late last month, the case was reopened “based on new information” and investigators determined Bryant was responsible for the burglary, police said.
This is not the first time the former officer has been accused of trying to enter someone’s home, records show.
Although Bryant was never charged in a Dec. 11 incident, a woman filed a report with Gwinnett police after a neighbor told her someone “tried to break into her apartment,” according to an incident report. A Doraville police sergeant contacted the woman, who said she believed Bryant was trying to enter her apartment, an internal document shows. The woman told police she “has known and been close to (Bryant) since elementary school.”
She turned over camera footage of the incident, which, according to the document, showed Bryant knocking on the door and turning the knob, “but not doing anything cruel.”
Bryant told the sergeant he stopped by to check on the woman after “she made a questionable post on social media that concerned him.” That sergeant concluded in his report that the woman “misinterpreted” Bryant’s gesture “to check on her well-being.”
On Jan. 4, about six weeks before his arrest, Bryant was told to no longer contact the woman, according to an email sent to Doraville Police Chief Chuck Atkinson by another officer.
Bryant was reprimanded several times during his 21-month tenure with the Doraville Police Department, according to his personnel file. But a supervisor wrote in a 2022 performance review that Bryant was well-liked by his colleagues and had the potential to be “an exemplary police officer.”
His arrest in February in the killing of Morales stunned many in the community. It also angered some who felt the police did not take the teenager’s disappearance as seriously as they should have.
In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month, Morales’ mother said she believes her daughter may have been found earlier if her case was not treated as a runaway.
“It’s agonizing. Waiting for the moment she comes back. Waiting for her to call me. Waiting for news that I’m going to pick her up,” Maria Bran said. “My hope was always that she would come back alive, not the way she was found.”
The Gwinnett Police Department has defended its handling of the investigation, saying detectives followed all leads from the night Morales was reported missing.
Bryant remains held at the Gwinnett Jail without bond.
©2023 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
EARLIER: Former Georgia cop charged with covering up death of missing 16-year-old girl