Jerome Isaac was arrested for murder on Sunday when he turned himself in to police after he burned an elderly woman named Delores Gillespie alive in the elevator of her Brooklyn apartment building.
Isaac, 47, was charged with first-degree murder and arson for the death of 73-year-old Delores Gillespie, who had hired Isaac to do odd jobs around her home. Isaac turned himself in to police early Sunday after surveillance footage caught him burning her alive.
Gillespie's nephew, Rickey Causey, 52, told the New York Post that she had fired Isaac after he was caught stealing.
He was doing more stealing than cleaning, Causey said.
Causey said Isaac left a note on Gillespie's door listing the duties he claimed he performed but for which she did not pay him. Causey said she wasn't going to pay Isaac since he had stolen from her, which prompted Isaac to commit the violent crime.
Woman Burned Alive
Gillespie, was burned alive in the elevator of her apartment after Isaac trapped her, covered her with accelerant and set her on fire while surveillance camera caught the entire incident on video.
New York City Police spokesman Paul Browne said Isaac ambushed Gillespie, who had just returned home from grocery shopping, as the doors of the elevator opened on the fifth floor of the apartment building in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, around 4 p.m. on Saturday. Browne said the woman was sprayed with accelerant and set on fire with a Molotov cocktail from the hallway where Isaac was waiting for her.
It was apparent he knew she was on the elevator, Browne said.
Isaac was dressed posing as an exterminator in a black jacket, surgical gloves and a white dust mask on his head. He was holding an exterminator-styled canister and a bottle gas bomb, according to images released by the New York City Police Department. Browne said the canister had a hose like those used to hold insecticide, which he used to spray flammable liquid on the woman.
Police said she crouched and hid in the back of the elevator as the man sprayed the chemical directly in her face.
He opens the door and sprayed her methodically over her head, over her body, Browne said. She's cowering, trying to protect her face with her hands.
Police said Isaac lit a rag in a bottle on fire using a barbeque lighter, let it burn a few seconds, before using it to set Gillespie on fire. Browne said Isaac stepped out of the elevator as he lit the bottle gas bomb and threw it on Gillespie.
After that, Isaac re-opened the elevator doors, sprayed Gillespie with the accelerant again before exiting down the stairs of the building.
The incident was caught on two cameras in the building, one which was inside of the elevator.
Neighbors said the elevator and building was full of smoke when they reported a fire in the building, though they did not initially know Gillespie was being burned alive inside the elevator. Residents reported hearing screams and saw smoke coming from the elevator and realized a person was inside.
Myself and someone from the sixth floor went down knocking to get people out. Knocking on doors telling people 'There's a fire, get out, get out, a resident named John told CNN-affiliate WCBS.
Residents were evacuated from the building for six hours on Saturday evening. Police reported that five were injured, though none were seriously hurt.
A memorial candle was lit on Sunday at the home of Delores Gillespie on the stoop of the building, with an out-of-service elevator filled with water, ash and debris.