By the time Deloris Gillespie saw him, waiting on the other side of an elevator door, it was too late to escape.
With her shopping bags in hand, she pushed open the door. There stood a man she knew, Jerome Isaac. He set upon her immediately, the authorities said, armed with a tank of fuel and a barbecue lighter, wearing white gloves and a surgical mask. He was angry, he would tell the police on Sunday, because he believed she owed him about $2,000 for odd jobs.
But there was no way Ms. Gillespie, 73, could have been prepared for what happened.
Mr. Isaac, 47, methodically set the woman aflame, burning her alive in the elevator of her building in Brooklyn on Saturday, only a few feet from her apartment door, the police said. He sprayed the flammable liquid in the woman’s face and over her cowering body, and then lighted a Molotov cocktail to ignite the fire.
Within minutes, Ms. Gillespie was burning to death in the narrow cab, and her assailant had fled down the stairs. The attack lasted only a few minutes, all of it captured by surveillance cameras; the sheer, calculated brutality stunned even the most hardened of homicide detectives.
Several hours later, Mr. Isaac, “reeking of gasoline,” turned himself in Sunday morning at a transit police station, and by the afternoon, the police said, he had confessed to the attack. He faces charges of first-degree and second-degree murder and arson. . .