Friends remember Mariam Abdulrab, whose death changed Georgia law
Follow Atlanta News First Investigates as Mariam Abdulrab’s family and friends fight for justice, and learn how our coverage changed Georgia law.
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - 27-year-old Mariam Abdulrab was abducted from her boyfriend’s driveway in 2021 and later shot and killed. Police soon arrested DeMarcus Brinkley, a repeat sex offender in Georgia with a long rap sheet, including child molestation.
As a repeat offender, Brinkley should have been fitted with an ankle monitor. But a loophole in Georgia law allowed him to slip through the tracks, a loophole that was exposed by Atlanta News First Investigates.
Over the past year, Abdulrab’s family and friends dropped everything to fight for legislation in her honor, and Atlanta News First Investigates’ coverage of Abdulrab’s legacy brought a major change to how Georgia monitors its convicted sex offenders.
Mariam’s memorial tree
A tiny seed planted two short years ago now filters light in Piedmont Park through a living memorial tree.
“When we first saw it, it was so small, but it’s really grown a lot,” Mariam’s best friend, Arin Hossain, said.
Deep roots intertwine, supplying strength and support. It’s a fitting homage to six strangers, who grew into one family.
Mariam Abdulrab impacted Hossain’s life “in every way possible,” she said. “I met Mariam in seventh grade homeroom class.”
“We met in art class, I think 10th grade,” Elisha Kim said, while Garrett Sabb met her “in our science class.”
“I met Mariam 17 years ago, middle school,” Emily Kim said. “It was freshman year. We decided to get together for a school project. I would go over to her house, and then week after week, I was always there. Ever since then, we did sleepovers, just learning together, growing together.”
“One of my best memories was when all the girls came together and we had a picnic,” Genie Pacheco said. “Mariam was the life of the party.”
“One of the last trips me and Mariam took together, we went to Mexico and Tulum,” Hossain said. “We went to dinner, and we rode bikes there. But the memory of us riding bikes back was the most amazing thing because we were acting like we were ten years old again. Just laughing, giggling, all the things.”
When asked how they would describe Abdulrab in three words, Elisha Kim said, “loving, caring and giving.”
“She was selfless, generous and a kindred spirit,” Pacheco added.
“Loving, compassionate, loud,” Hossain laughed. “She’s very loud.”
A chosen family
Mariam Abdulrab owned all their hearts.
“For a lot of queer people, we have chosen families. And Mariam was a big part of my chosen family,” Sabb said. “She was my sister and my counterpart.”
“She gave me that family, and our family and I just couldn’t have asked for anything better. This is the friendship of a lifetime,” Elisha Kim added.
When asked what lessons each of them learned from Abdulrab, Pacheco said, “She taught me how to really believe in myself.”
“To treat people with kindness, no matter what,” Sabb said. “She’s definitely a part of who I am today.”
“She was kind of the angel on my shoulder at all times,” Hossain said. “She taught me how to be more open to love. But she just overall just showed me that no matter what, love matters above all.”
“It was always just us and it just felt like our friendship was something that went against time,” Emily Kim added.
In Piedmont Park, Mariam Abdulrab’s friends celebrate new life, while remembering the one they lost.
“Seeing something grow in that place, it’s just nice and it’s peaceful,” Hossain said.
“When you say someone was taken off of earth to early because they were too good for this world, that’s her,” Elisha Kim said. “Too good for this world.”
If there’s something you would like Atlanta News First investigative reporter Rachel Polansky to dig into, email her at Rachel.Polansky@wanf.com.
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