Delores Gillespie from Brooklyn, New York, was burned to death by a man who doused her with a flammable liquid and set her alight in an elevator.
After this moment, a 47-year-old man smelling of gasoline walked into a police station overnight and implicated himself in the death of Delores Gillespie, 64.
The man, who hasn’t been charged, said he had started a fire, according to a New York Police Department spokesman. The man’s identity hasn’t been released.
The unidentified attacker – reportedly the woman’s ex-boyfriend – was waiting at the Brooklyn apartment block for the woman to return home.
As the elevator doors opened, he sprayed her with a flammable liquid, lit a rag in a bottle – a Molotov cocktail – and set Delores Gillespie on fire, according to New York police.
The horrifying attack lasted a minute and was caught on two surveillance cameras at the 203 Underhill Avenue apartment block.
Delores Gillespie, who had just returned from grocery shopping, turned and crouched in an attempt to protect herself, according to police.
But the man, who was wearing a protective mask on top of his head, sprayed her directly in the face and over her head and body as she retreated to the back of the elevator.
The man then pulled out a barbeque-style lighter and used it to ignite a rag in a bottle.
He waited for a few seconds before using the flames to set her alight and throwing the bottle inside the lift.
The attacker ran away, using the apart block’s staircase, leaving the woman to die in agony. Delores Gillespie, who neighbors believe grew up in Louisiana and suffered a mental illness, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police said they believe the unidentified man, who was “known to the victim”, had been waiting for Delores Gillespie to return home.
“It was apparent he knew she was on the elevator,” New York City police spokesman Paul Browne said.
According to the New York Post, the man is Delores Gillespie’s former boyfriend. The paper adds that, before the deadly attack, the man had glued shut the locks on her apartment.
“I’ve never seen any s*** like this, and I’ve been doing this a long time,” an unnamed detective added.
No arrests have yet been made, but investigators are checking for the suspect at local hospitals after he appears to have sustained burns to his face and hands, the New York Times reported.
Firefighters and the police arrived at the apartment block at 4:00 p.m. after residents reported fire and smoke – but remained unaware of the elevator horror.
Neighbors described their shock at the terrifying incident, which occurred on the building’s fifth floor, where Delores Gillespie had lived “for years”.
Delores Gillespie had often complained other tenants were stealing from her – yet neighbors believe she was simply paranoid.
Her son had been staying with her in recent months. Another neighbor said the woman was a postal worker.
Five other people were hurt in the fire, but not seriously injured.