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Son of Woman Set Ablaze: 'All She Did Was Give'

A grieving son remembers his mother—and the man accused of killing her.

One day after a 73-year-old woman was set on fire with a Molotov cocktail and burned alive in an Underhill Avenue elevator, her son remembers her—and the man accused of killing her.

“She was the most loving and kind person,” said Maurice Gillespie, Delores Gillespie’s son  “All she ever did was give, give, give, give, give. She never took from nobody. She gave all her life.”

Maurice Gillespie discussed his mother in the lobby of his Underhill Avenue apartment on Sunday afternoon.The building, 203 Underhill between St Johns and Sterling places, still smelled like smoke and was eerily quiet as Maurice spoke with neighbors and reporters about his mother, who was murdered on Saturday allegedly by a man she hired to help clean her apartment three years ago.

after he turned himself in to the authorities, was charged with first and second degree murder and arson. 

On Saturday, at around 4:15 p.m. Isaac allegedly dressed up as an exterminator, went up to the fifth floor of the Underhill Avenue apartment building and waited for Delores to come home.

When she came out of the elevator, light a homemade Molotov cocktail bomb and throw it at her while she was in the elevator. She burned to death. Gillespie was 73.   

Maurice, who has lived with his mom in the same apartment for 31 years, said his mother, who worked at the General Post Office in East New York, had compassion for the needy.

“If someone needed work, she helped them get a job, if some one was hungry, she’d give them food, if they were broke, she’d give them money,” Maurice said.

Isaac, who lives on Lincoln Place, was one of those in need and Delores was there to help. Maurice does not know where his mother met the 47-year-old suspected killer, but she hired him three years ago as a handyman around the house because he supposedly needed a job.

But, after a year-and-a-half, she found out that he was stealing from her and she fired him. That’s when, according to Maurice, Isaac started to harass Delores. Maurice said Isaac would get into the building and post threatening notes on her door, demanding money he said she owed him.

“She paid him so much it made no sense,” Maurice said, claiming that Isaac entered the building about 30 times in the last year and a half to post notes on their apartment door, harass and threaten Delores.

“He was stalking my moms, he would stay over here by the building and when she came out he would chase her down the street,” Maurice said, explaining that he only knew the suspected killer as “J.”

Delores’s nephew, Rickey Causey, also lived with them, was standing on the stoop near the makeshift vigil of flowers and candles.

“I’m hurt, that’s all I can say,” Causey said, who was in the fifth floor apartment when the attack took place. “It kills me, but I didn’t hear a thing until the firemen knocked on the door. When I opened the door I saw flames coming out from the elevator.”

He said that every Thanksgiving Delores would set up a big table outside of the building, fill it with food and feed the homeless.

“She would never let nobody starve,” Maurice added, explaining that his mother would always buy food in bulk and bring it a homeless shelter close by. “I’m going to continue to feed the homeless, just like my mom did all her life.”

On Sunday, when Maurice tried to get back into his apartment he has lived in with his mother for three decades, he found that the locks have been changed and the super intendant would not let him in.

The super, who would not give his name and said the police ordered him to change the locks, said Maurice’s name was not on the lease.

Delores’s friend of 25 years, who babysat Maurice as a kid, was at building on Sunday trying to figure out how to get Mauirce back into his apartment.

“She was a gorgeous person, she was always feeding the hungry,” she said, but would not give her name. She said the last time she saw Gillespie was a couple of days ago on Flatbush Avenue and she was talking about her son. 

Maurice said that his mother loved to shop and had an eye for sales.

“She bought me an entire wardrobe for winter, spring and summer that lasted me three years,” he said while wearing a white winter coat she bought for him.

The fifth floor was covered with charred matter, black puddles and littered with purple latex gloves. The lights were not on in the hallway, the scene indicated that something horrible happened here. 

“She got killed by a man who she took in, fed and clothed because he needed help,” Maurice said.

When asked what his mother would say if she were still alive, Maurice didn’t need a second to think.

“We would be talking and she’d tell me ‘Make sure you do the right thing, work hard for your money, pay your bills and pay your rent,’” he said. 

Editors Note: Dec. 20, 12:51 p.m.: A  up to help the family of Delores Gillespie with funeral expenses. 

Stacey December 19, 2011 at 08:12 PM
This is a sad story compounded by the landlord locking out the son. The community should come out to help this young man, and support him in his time of grieving.
Laura December 19, 2011 at 10:15 PM
This info was at the end of the Daily News article: Letitia James said the family is struggling to raise money for a funeral after Christmas. Donations can be sent to the Victims Rehabilitation Fund at Carver Federal Savings Bank, 4 Hanson Place, Brooklyn, N.Y., 11217
scott December 20, 2011 at 07:39 AM
It is awful that this woman died, excuse my previous sarcasm. The area is very violent and I'm just done with it. I also find it extremely alarming when people move here from god knows where and have no clue that you need to be safe and very cautious. Hopefully the press will raise some awareness and there will be more of a police presence to stop this madness. 77th precinct? Good luck. It's all rookie cops on beat and different ones every night it seems. It's a joke. I'd put more trust in the Shmira.
Michelle December 22, 2011 at 10:51 PM
I've been living in the area(Park Pl b/w Underhill & Washington) since 2004 and I feel completely safe, well as safe as I feel in most NYC neighborhoods. I often get off the subway at 2 or 3 am and have never been threatened or harassed.
scott December 23, 2011 at 10:43 AM
i also have never had a problem but my next door neighbor wasn't so lucky and was murdered at 707 sterling place back in march. what really surprised me was how loud the gunshots were and then how quiet it was for a while and then how loud it got again when the ambulance hauled the quiet body off

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