The man suspected of dousing a 64-year-old Brooklyn woman with a flammable liquid and setting her on fire inside an elevator is in police custody this morning.
Police say the 32-year-old man -- who is believe to be the dead woman's former lover -- walked into a police precinct to turn himself in. The NY Post reports the man reeked of gasoline, and he made statements implicating himself in the horrific murder.
According to police, the lunatic was waiting for Dolores Gillespie outside the elevator on the 5th floor at 203 Underhill Ave when she returned home from grocery shopping.
Surveillance images from two cameras show the man wearing a pest control style mask on top of his head and white gloves. He opened the elevator door and sprayed Ms. Gillespie about the face, head and upper body with accelerant from an exterminator style container. In his left hand he held a small bottle with a strip of material. He used a barbecue style lighter to light the Molotov cocktail bottle and toss it into the elevator.
"The liquid’s container had a hose like those commonly found on insecticide cannisters," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.
“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.”
The man held the elevator door closed as the flames consumed Ms. Gillespie. He opened the door one final time to spray more accelerant on the burning woman before fleeing, Browne said.
A resident of the Prospect Heights building said he heard sounds of an intense struggle. “She was screaming at the top of her lungs,” said the resident.
"It sounded like a person being attacked, rather than someone stuck in an elevator,” said the neighbor. “It sounded like she was in trouble.”
Another resident said he heard the victim’s blood-curdling screams, and he rushed out of his apartment to look for the woman.
“I smelled smoke, and then ran back upstairs to call 911,” said the man, who gave his name as David.
Neighbor Chris Martinez said “she didn’t have any enemies.”
“She was a fixture in the neighborhood for years. This is unreal," said neighbor Heidi Matthews, who said Gillespie worked for the post office. "There was nothing she wouldn’t do for you. She bought me flowers for Mothers’ Day."
But other residents of the building say Gillespie was mentally ill and paranoid. She often complained of upstairs neighbors stealing from her.
The killer, whose name is being withheld by police, has not been charged in Gillespie's death.