‘A living jewel’: Bartender’s kidnapping, death shocks city on edge

Man in custody labeled ‘person of interest’
Members of the Atlanta Police Department investigate a scene at the corner of Lakewood Avenue and Terrace Way in southeast Atlanta’s Lakewood Heights community, where police discovered the body of a woman who had been reported kidnapped hours earlier.



Members of the Atlanta Police Department investigate a scene at the corner of Lakewood Avenue and Terrace Way in southeast Atlanta’s Lakewood Heights community, where police discovered the body of a woman who had been reported kidnapped hours earlier.

In a city still reeling from the gruesome stabbing death of a woman walking her dog in Piedmont Park, Atlanta was once again stung by tragedy Friday morning when a woman was violently kidnapped outside her home and found shot to death hours later.

In the midst of an outpouring of grief and remembrance, multiple friends and coworkers confirmed the identity of the woman as Mariam Abdulrab, 27, to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A bartender at Revery VR Bar in Midtown, Abdulrab was returning to her home in Chosewood Park, just south of Grant Park, from work in the early morning hours, friends say, when she was kidnapped outside her house at gunpoint.

Her body was found shortly before 10 a.m. near the intersection of Lakewood Avenue and Terrace Way in the Lakewood Heights neighborhood.

Abdulrab’s death is the 15th killing of a woman in Atlanta this year and the 92nd homicide overall. Many instantly connected her slaying with the grisly murder of Katie Janness in Piedmont Park less than three weeks earlier. Janness, also a bartender, was brutally attacked late at night while walking her dog.

Despite the similarities between the two cases, Atlanta police do not believe they are connected.

“These are two separate incidents,” department spokesman Deputy Chief Charles Hampton Jr. said during a news conference Friday afternoon.

Hours after Abdulrab’s body was found, a man considered a person of interest in the case was taken into custody.

Demarcus Brinkley, 27, was flown to a hospital after crashing his 2013 Chevrolet Equinox into a Buick during a pursuit in Griffin, according to the Georgia State Patrol. The Buick’s driver was also flown to Atlanta Medical Center. No updates were provided on either of their conditions Friday.

Once he is treated, Brinkley will continue to be held on traffic charges, the GSP said. No charges have been filed against Brinkley related to Abdulrab’s kidnapping and death, according to Atlanta police. The State Patrol will handle his traffic charges.

In interviews with the AJC and on social media, those who knew Abdulrab described her as warm, kind and thoughtful. Two of the bars where she worked will shut down for the weekend as their employees try to cope with her death.

“Mariam was a living jewel. She shone,” said Grant Henry, owner of quirky Edgewood bar Church, where Abdulrab sometimes worked.

The woman's body was spotted shortly before 10 a.m. Friday near the intersection of Lakewood Avenue and Terrace Way.


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“We are all family,” said Henry, whose bar’s full name is Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium. “As if the pandemic wasn’t enough, to lose a family member is even worse.”

James McConnell, who worked with Abdulrab for three years at his bar, MOTHER Bar + Kitchen, was still processing the horror Friday afternoon.

“She was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. Kind to everyone, and that says a lot because in the service industry, everybody has a general wall up because you deal with a lot of (disrespect),” McConnell said. “Everybody loved her.”

McConnell said he and Abdulrab often passed time chatting at the Edgewood bar before it closed down in 2020. Even after that, Abdulrab kept in touch, messaging to check in on Instagram. They said hello just a few days ago.

“She checked in when my daughter was born,” McConnell said. “That speaks to the kind of person she was.”

“She had a warm light to her,” he said.

Mariam Abdulrab was kidnapped outside of this home as she returned from her work as a bartender.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

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Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Though they did not confirm Abdulrab’s identity Friday, Atlanta police said a woman was kidnapped while returning to her home in the 500 block of Burroughs Street. A witness called 911 around 5 a.m. after he saw a woman forced into an SUV at gunpoint, Hampton told reporters during Friday’s news conference.

While police were still investigating, another 911 call came in at 6 a.m. reporting gunfire in the area of Lakewood Avenue and Terrace Way. Investigators determined the kidnapping call and the shooting call were likely related.

Nearly four hours later, as police were organizing a canvass of the area, a witness spotted the woman’s body.

Abdulrab’s case developed quickly, unlike Janness’ mysterious killing, which was the first homicide in Piedmont Park in 12 years.

On the morning of July 28, the bodies of Janness and her dog, Bowie, were found near the entrance to the park at 10th Street and Charles Allen Drive, not far from Janness’ Midtown home. When she didn’t return from her walk, her girlfriend used a phone tracker to find Janness. Investigators said she had been stabbed repeatedly. The FBI is assisting Atlanta police with the investigation, but no suspects are in custody.

The shocking deaths of Janness and Abdulrab add another talking point to the conversation about Atlanta’s ongoing struggle with violent crime.

“Our city has suffered another tragedy,” Atlanta City Council President and mayoral candidate Felicia Moore told the AJC. “Another family has been devastated. Another neighborhood is in mourning. My deepest sympathies are with the family, and I am confident that her friends and family will feel the loving embrace of our good neighbors.”

Harry Hamilton, an East Point resident who said he’d been going to the southeast Atlanta neighborhood where Abdulrab’s body was recovered since 1972, told the AJC he felt numb to the violence.

“It’s shocking that it happened, but this has been an area of questionable character for many years,” Hamilton said while watching investigators from the backyard of Ideal Sports Bar on Lakewood Avenue. “But I’ve never really experienced any violence of this nature — it’s becoming more commonplace, so it almost goes by like, ‘Oh well.’”

— Staff writers Shaddi Abusaid and Alexis Stevens contributed to this article.