Man who kidnapped, killed Atlanta bartender begins serving life sentence

DeMarcus Brinkley shot woman he didn’t know in August 2021
A mural of Mariam Abdulrab was painted on Wylie Street as a memorial in August 2021.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

A mural of Mariam Abdulrab was painted on Wylie Street as a memorial in August 2021.

A man who kidnapped and killed an Atlanta bartender described as a bright light will serve life in prison for the 2021 crime.

DeMarcus Leonard Brinkley, 29, pleaded guilty last month in the death of Mariam Abdulrab, Fulton County court records show. Brinkley, who was sentenced to life plus five years, was moved from the Fulton jail to the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison in Jackson last week, according to the state Department of Corrections.

“The defendant will spend the rest of his life in prison and out of our community, where he has shown himself to be a grave danger to the public,” District Attorney Fani Willis said in a statement. “While nothing we do can restore Mariam’s life that was so tragically stolen from her, her family and her friends, we hope the fact that her killer will spend the rest of this life paying for her murder brings some measure of solace.”

Brinkley previously spent seven years behind bars, including more than four years in prison following a conviction for child molestation, records show. He was released from prison less than a year before he killed Abdulrab.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 13, 2021, Abdulrab was returning to her home in Chosewood Park in southeast Atlanta from her bartending job at Revery VR Bar in Midtown when she was kidnapped outside her house, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.

A witness called 911 around 5 a.m. after seeing a woman being forced into an SUV at gunpoint, according to Atlanta police. While officers were still investigating the kidnapping, another 911 call came in an hour later reporting gunfire in the area of Lakewood Avenue and Terrace Way. Investigators determined the calls were related.

A witness spotted Abdulrab’s body nearly four hours later, as police were preparing to canvass the area. According to the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office, the 27-year-old had been shot multiple times.

Brinkley was identified as a person of interest and Atlanta police requested help from troopers in stopping his SUV, according to the Georgia State Patrol. Brinkley struck a vehicle in Griffin before he was taken into custody. He did not know Abdulrab, authorities said.

Family members and friends remembered Abdulrab as a bright light, and a former manager said she was funny, quirky and disarming.

DeMarcus Brinkley

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

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Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

“Everyone looked forward to seeing Mariam at work, on both sides of the bar,” Dillon Knight said after her death. “She was a hard worker with a great finesse for making people feel welcome and appreciated. She had a huge heart and would go well out of her way to help out or provide for folks.”

A mural of Abdulrab was painted on Wylie Street, and flowers were left on the ground below in the days after her death.

“Everyone who met her couldn’t get enough of her,” her brother, Ali Abdulrab, said weeks after her death. “She made people feel better. It was just her thing. She did it without even thinking about it.”

An investigation by the AJC revealed that Brinkley’s criminal history began at a young age and, after serving time behind bars, he seemed to fall through the cracks of the justice system.

“We really don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” Abdulrab’s brother said. “From what we’ve learned, it seems like it could easily happen. After everything I’ve learned, I don’t feel safe for other people.”

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