Georgia Police Officer Convicted of Kidnapping and Murdering 16-Year-Old Girl

Atlanta, Georgia – A former police officer in Doraville, a suburb north of Atlanta, was convicted on Wednesday of kidnapping and murdering a 16-year-old girl who went missing while walking home from a friend’s house.

Miles Bryant, the former police officer, was found guilty of malice murder, felony murder, kidnapping, and a false report of a crime in the death of Susana Morales, who disappeared in 2022. Her body was discovered months later in the woods. The jury found Bryant not guilty of attempted rape.

Morales was first reported missing in July 2022 by her mother, who stated that her daughter never made it back home from a friend’s house nearby. The family last heard from Morales at 9:40 p.m. on the night she disappeared, when she messaged her mother that she was on her way home.

Morales’ body was not located until February 6, 2023, when skeletal remains were found in a wooded area about 20 miles east of her home. The cause of death could not be determined due to the body’s decomposition, according to Dr. Carol Terry, Gwinnett County’s chief medical examiner.

During Bryant’s trial, his ex-girlfriend, Avyonne Smyre, testified about an argument they had on the night of Morales’ disappearance. She mentioned noticing suspicious scratches on his truck, raising further suspicions in the case.

Gwinnett Police Detective Angela Carter testified that Bryant’s cellphone data placed him in the area where Morales’ body was dumped on the night she went missing. Carter also revealed that Bryant had conducted internet searches related to Morales’ disappearance, including inquiries about body decomposition.

In his closing argument, prosecuting attorney Brandon Delfunt described Bryant as a “cop turned killer” who misused his power and badge to commit the heinous act. Bryant’s defense attorney, Tracy Drake, did not immediately respond to requests for a statement.

Throughout the investigation and trial, Morales’ family demanded justice, expressing frustration that their initial concerns for her safety were dismissed by law enforcement. They maintained that Morales would never run away and questioned how she could disappear while on her way home.