NEW YORK – A grand jury has indicted a New York City man on first-degree murder charges accusing him of killing a 73-year-old woman by dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire, authorities said Friday.
The indictment also charges Jerome Isaac with arson. He was not in court Friday in Brooklyn when a prosecutor informed a judge of the formal charges.
Outside court, defense attorney Howard Tanner told reporters that the murder indictment was expected. He said he was in touch with his client and would "evaluate all possible defenses" but declined to elaborate.
An arraignment — when Isaac would enter a plea — wasn't scheduled. He's being held without bail.
Isaac, 47, was arrested Sunday in what New York authorities called one of the most gruesome crimes in recent memory.
The defendant had done odd jobs for the victim, Delores Gillespie. But they had a falling out and, believing she owned him $2,000, Isaac confronted Gillespie in her Brooklyn apartment building outfitted like an exterminator with a canister sprayer full of gasoline, police said.
A building security camera captured Isaac cornering Gillespie in an elevator and spraying her with gasoline as she cowered in the corner. He then used a barbecue-style lighter to ignite a Molotov cocktail, before tossing it into the elevator and leaving his victim to die in a fireball, police said.
Isaac fled the building with burns on his face, authorities said. He then hid on a nearby rooftop in the winter cold for hours before he surrendered, reeking of gasoline, they said.