Neighbors Hold Vigil In Memory Of Brooklyn Woman Burned Alive In Elevator

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Neighbors remembered a Brooklyn mother of four who was burned alive in an elevator over the weekend at a vigil Tuesday night.

Deloris Gillespie, 73, died Saturday after she was doused with gasoline and set ablaze in the elevator of her Prospect Heights apartment building.

Tuesday night, members of the community came together to light candles in Gillespie’s honor and pray.

Her alleged attacker, 47-year-old Jerome Isaac, was arraigned on Monday, charged with murder and arson. He is being held without bail. His attorney asked to keep Isaac in solitary confinement, and also to receive medical attention for the extensive burns on the left side of his face.

Gillespie’s funeral is planned for after Christmas, according to City Council member Letitia James.

A makeshift memorial with flowers and candles grace the entrance to the six-story apartment building where Gillespie lived.

Gillespie worked nights sorting mail at an East New York postal facility and regularly attended services at the Brotherhood Baptist Church. She was also active in her community often helping organize events and attending council meetings trying to keep crime out of the neighborhood.

She is survived by her daughter, three sons and grandchild.

Gillespie’s friends said she hired Isaac to do odd jobs around her. Isaac was allegedly angry with Gillespie, claiming she owed him $2,000.

Police said Isaac waited for Gillespie outside an elevator she was riding in. When the elevator door opened, police said Isaac stepped into the car and began methodically spraying Gillespie with a flammable liquid, dousing her from head to toe as she struggled to avoid the spray.

Police said Isaac then tossed a Molotov cocktail into the elevator, setting it ablaze. Gillespie died of burns and smoke inhalation, according to the criminal complaint.

Police said Isaac later turned himself in and confessed to the crime. He allegedly reeked of gasoline when he surrendered.

Isaac is due in court Friday.

Share your thoughts in the comments section…

  • Deborah Jeffries

    I’m sorry for writing so many comments, but this story was so evil I cannot help myself.

    The only story I can recollect in past years that was eerily as evil happened in 1983 when Brookln resident Charles Rothenberg kidnapped his 6 year old son, took him to California and tried to burn him to death to get back at his wife who was seeking a divorce.

    His son lived, though horribly mutilated and disfigured.

    Rothenberg served just six years.

    People like Issac and Rothenberg cannot be rehabilitated.

    They are evil to the core.

    I agree with the reply post that he should get the death penalty by being cornered and sprayed with gasoline until the screaming stops and a pile of bones are left.

    I’m normally against the death penalty, but when the crime is at such a high level of horror and the defendant admits guilt, in certain cases like this the death penalty is justified.

    Mrs. Gillespie’s family on the eve of Christmas has had to face a monumental tragedy.

    What a sad end to such a kind and warm hearted woman who was trying to give a helping hand to a man that was an animal.

    My prayers go out to her family and may that man never leave his confinement until the last day of his life.

    Unadulterated evil are man’s crimes against humanity.

  • Deborah Jeffries

    I believe that prosecutors will vigorously prosecute this case, however, I question the charge of arson in the second degree.

    First degree arson is charged when a person dies in the act.

    And since this was his deliberate intent to kill this woman by fire, a first degree arson charge would be most appropriate and would be a better message for the DA’s office to send.

    I still think that second degree arson is too soft of a charge taking into account the barbarism, heinousness and deliberate intent to torture and kill Mrs. Gillespie by the defendant.

    All charges should be to the highest degree that law allows.

    Mrs. Gillespie and her family deserve nothing less than that.

  • Deborah Jeffries

    I certainly hope that the prosecutors don’t even remotely entertain the notion of a plea bargain in this case.

    The sleazy defense lawyer says his client needs treatment for the burns he suffered while burning Mrs. Gillespie to death.

    Are you kidding? Who cares about this sicko’s injuries when he stalked, laid in wait and viciously, methodically and without any human conscience burned an elderly woman to death. The horror and suffering this woman faced in the last minutes of her life is the most shocking story in the news this year.

    And first degree murder is appropriate but second arson?

    What would constitute first degree arson?

    Justice for Deloris Gillespie.


    May her soul RIP. :-(

  • Very conservative

    Liberalism is a mental disorder.

  • JJ

    Very sad…

  • pants

    where is the vigil, at the building?

  • Jen

    Reinstate the death penalty!

    • Angelina

      I agree. And Isaac’s death should occur exactly as he meted it out to his victim. i.e. he should be cornered in a small room, doused with gasoline, and set afire–just as he did to his poor victim.

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