Man Sets Woman on Fire in NY Elevator, Charged With Murder

A deranged man, who thought an elderly woman owed him money, set her on fire in an elevator in her building as she was returning home.

Jerome Isaac, 47, a Brooklyn handyman, was charged with the murder of a woman he had set on fire as he reportedly waited for his victim in her apartment building.

Delores Gillespie, 73, was found burned to death in her apartment’s elevator after she had hired Isaac to help clear items in her Prospect Heights apartment but stopped the agreement after she caught him stealing, cops and relatives said.

Gillespie’s relatives told police that In August, Isaac put a typed invoice on Gillespie's door demanding more than $300 in payment for work he said he had done for her.

"She had a bunch of locks on the door," said relative Dorinda Thomas, 56. "She was desperately scared of him," according to The New York Daily News.

Isaac was caught on the apartment’s video surveillance camera wearing an exterminator's mask, gloves and backpack canister, waiting for the elevator to open in Gillespie's Underhill Avenue apartment building as she returned from the store Saturday afternoon.

As the elevator doors opened Isaac doused the woman head-to-toe with an accelerant and then used a lighter to ignite her.

While the woman was on fire Isaac lit a rag on fire that was in a bottle; he threw the bottle into the elevator while Gillespie was huddled on the floor.

Isaac turned himself in at the NYPD's Transit District 32 on Carroll St. in Crown Heights about 12:30 a.m.

"He indicated that he was responsible for setting a fire, he didn't say anything about a homicide," said Paul Browne, the NYPD's top spokesman. "Since then, he has made statements implicating himself in the attack."

Isaac claimed Gillespie owed him a total of $2,000 for maintenance work a police source said.

"She trusted him," said Rickey Causey, 52, Gillespie's nephew, who lived with the victim. "She gave him a key to go in and out of the apartment."