BROOKLYN, NEW YORK- Impassive, seen-it-all New York City types were stunned this weekend when news broke that a woman had been burned to death- seemingly by a stranger- in the elevator of her apartment building in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
The incident was the second elevator-related death within the five boroughs in the past week- just a few days prior, another Brooklyn woman was killed when an elevator malfunctioned in a Manhattan high-rise, crushing her and traumatizing two other riders in the lift. Both deaths were horrific in nature, but the murder of Deloris Gillespie shocked New Yorkers, who wondered if the killing was random and if an arson-crazed killer was on the loose in Brooklyn.
It turns out that the 73-year-old woman and the 47-year-old man believed to be attacking her in the surveillance video (widely distributed after the incident) were acquainted, and suspect Jerome Issacs soon visited a police station to confess his involvement. After the incident, neighbors came forward to say Issacs had been harassing Gillespie over what he believed to be a $2,000 debt accrued while the two lived together, and that Issacs appeared to be assisting Gillespie before the working relationship soured over theft accusations from Gillespie. Building residents noted that Gillespie often covered her door with duct tape when leaving the building, which they believed to be due to Issac’s alleged harassment.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne says Issac admitted to setting fires, but may not have confessed to the murder:
“He indicated that he was responsible for setting a fire- he didn’t say anything about a homicide… Since then, he has made statements implicating himself in the attack.”
Issac has been charged with murder and arson.