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Family Of Deloris Gillespie, Brooklyn Woman Burned Alive In Elevator, Speaks Out

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The heartbroken family of a Brooklyn woman torched in her building's elevator talked to the media 12 days after her gruesome death and the day before her funeral.

1010 WINS' Al Jones at the emotional news conference


Deloris Gillespie's adult children, brother and niece traveled from Indiana and Florida to discuss her sudden, horrific death on Thursday.

The 73-year-old died on Dec. 17 after after she was doused with gasoline and set ablaze in the elevator of her Prospect Heights apartment building.

"For someone to sit there and set someone on fire...a 73-year old mother -- set on fire that's ridiculous. I mean what is this country coming to?" said Gillespie's son, Everett Haynes.

"You hear and read about stuff, but it's a different story though when it happens to you," the victim's brother,  J.C. Causey, added.

"No one deserves what happened to her, my God!" said niece Tracy Gillespie. "The whole world for this instant has stopped because this crime is so horrific, it was so terrible."

WCBS 880's Sophia Hall On The Story


Her alleged attacker, 47-year-old Jerome Isaac, is charged with murder and arson. He is being held without bail.

Gillespie Family
Tracey Gillespie speaks about her aunt's life. (credit: CBS 2)

Gillespie's friends said she hired Isaac to do odd jobs around her apartment. Isaac told police Gillespie owed him $2,000; she had told neighbors he was stealing from her.

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.

"To me that was what caused her death in the end.  She was trying to help a homeless guy and he ended up killing her," said Haynes.

"She opened up her heart and her home and that's what ended up happening," Gillespie's daughter said.

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

The funeral for the woman who helped many in her community is scheduled for noon Friday at the First A.M.E. Zion Church in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood.

"I would like it to be as an impetus for us to know what it's like to touch someone else's life, for her death not to be in vain.  Deloris was always aware of the fact that she was her brother's keeper," said Tracy Gillespie.

A Manhattan hedge-fund manager who did not know Gillespie pledged to pay for her last rites and burial, but Gillespie's son said that has fallen through, Jones reported.

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