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Family: NY woman's generosity led to burn death

3 years ago December 30, 2011 Dec 30, 2011 Friday, December 30 2011 Friday, December 30, 2011 6:28:37 AM CST in News
Source: Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) - The relatives of a Brooklyn woman torched in the elevator of her apartment building said Thursday that she was a kindhearted woman who helped a homeless man and paid with her life.

Deloris Gillespie's children told reporters that the 71-year-old woman had hired Jerome Isaac to do some chores in her apartment.

And on Dec. 17, "he ended up killing her," said Gillespie's son, Everett Hayes, holding back tears.

Hayes joined Gillespie's daughter, cousin and brother at a news conference in the offices of New York City Councilwoman Letitia James, D-Brooklyn, who has been assisting them in the days after Deloris Gillespie's death.

A memorial service is scheduled for noon today at the First A.M.E. Zion Church in Brooklyn.

The family says they don't have enough money to pay for the service or other costs related to the death.

Jerome Isaac, 47, is charged with first-degree murder and arson in Gillespie's death.

Police say he cornered her in the elevator as it opened on the fifth floor of her apartment building in the Prospect Heights neighborhood, then sprayed her with gasoline and set her ablaze.

He surrendered to police a day later.

Isaac told police she owed him money. She had told neighbors the handyman was stealing from her.

At the time of her death, Gillespie was still working as a clerk at a post office in Brooklyn's East New York neighborhood.

A native of Bastrop, La., she had moved to New York as a young woman, settling in Brooklyn, where she attended a Baptist church while reaching out to anyone who was struggling in a neighborhood that has rapidly been gentrifying.

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