Elderly Woman Burned Alive in Prospect Heights Elevator

12/19/2011 2:05 PM |


Security cameras in a Prospect Height apartment building captured from two angles on Saturday a shocking act of violence, the Times reports. Jerome Isaac, 47, entered the Underhill Avenue building dressed as an exterminator in white gloves, a surgical mask, and a tank of fuel on his back; he made it up to the fifth floor and waited. When 73-year-old Deloris Gillespie emerged from the elevator, having just gone grocery shopping, Isaac proceeded “methodically” to douse her in fuel. He covered her from head to toe, lit a Molotov cocktail made from a long-neck bottle with a barbecue lighter, and tossed it into the elevator on Gillespie’s collapsed body. In a manner described by police as “detached,” he poured more fuel on the flame and ran.

Neighbors who heard shrill, “high-pitched” screams and saw smoke coming from the elevator called the police. Isaac suffered burns on his hands and face and had already fled. Gillespie, minutes after the attack, was dead on the scene. After hiding on a nearby rooftop and then wandering the streets to find out that he was wanted, Isaac, “reeking of gasoline,” turned himself in at a transit police station on Sunday morning and confessed. He claimed Gillespie owed him “about $2,000 for odd jobs.”

The Timesfollow-up report has more insight on both parties and the nature of their relationship from interviews with neighbors and relatives.

As for the footage of the attack, what the Times calls “a disturbing silent film,” the “sheer, calculated brutality stunned even the most hardened of homicide detectives.” It makes you wonder what other videotaped horrors the NYPD has stored in its archives…