Dying in a Dangerous (and Evil) Age

This is what lunacy looks like.

Elevators. We take them for convenience and we take them for granted.   I once had a job where I worked on the 38th floor of a building. Taking the steps wasn’t an option (and while the views were breathtaking, when the building swayed in high winds I didn’t appreciate it all that much).

Think about how often we step on and off elevators.  Then think about how little thought we give to them until something goes wrong.

We assume they are safe.  We take it on faith they will convey us from one floor to the next without accident or incident.

We don’t expect to die there. We certainly don’t expect to be murdered there.

An ad executive taking the elevator to her Midtown office like any other day was crushed to death in front of two horrified fellow passengers yesterday when the car suddenly shot upward with the doors still open.

Suzanne Hart, 41, a top exec at Young & Rubicam, was halfway aboard an elevator in the ground-floor lobby of 285 Madison Ave. when suddenly it shot upward like a bullet.

Hart fell forward into the car, part of her body inside and part still outside the entryway, said authorities. The elevator — its doors still open — then got stuck between the building’s first and second floors.

Building workers who saw the accident desperately tried to rescue Hart.

Suzanne Hart perished in a grisly accident

Inside the elevator, the man and woman stuck with Hart were forced to look on in horror as she died just inches away — a scene so harrowing that both were left “in severe distress,” said Fire Lt. Glenn Berube, one of the first rescuers on the scene.

The surviving woman “was crying . . . She was so physically shaken, she looked like she was convulsing. It was very traumatic for her,” Berube said.

Though they were not physically hurt, both witnesses were hospitalized for treatment of psychological trauma.

It was hours after the 10 a.m. accident before workers could remove Hart’s body from the scene.

The elevator had been taken out of service in 2003 after Department of Buildings inspectors found a “hazardous safety violation,” a city-government source said. But that unspecified problem was corrected long ago, said the source.

This accident was grisly, horrific and possibly preventable, but it was an accident.  In no way does it lessen Suzanne Hart’s tragic fate, but it’s understandable in a way.  Nobody likes to think they could die trying to go from one floor to another, but we can wrap our heads around it.

What happened three days later was no less grisly and horrific. But what makes it even worse is it was no accident at all, but a premeditated act of unparalleled evil, savagery and cruelty.

There’s nothing understandable in how  Doris Gillespie was ambushed and slaughtered three days later. Bad things happen.  That is random.   Evil occurs and it is methodical and planned.

A woman burned to death in the elevator of her Brooklyn apartment building Saturday after a man ambushed her, sprayed her with liquid and set her afire with a Molotov cocktail, police said.

The unidentified man was waiting for 64-year-old Doris Gillespie, when the elevator doors opened to her floor of the Prospect Heights building. The man sprayed her with an accelerant and set her on fire, New York City police spokesman Paul Browne said.

“It was apparent he knew she was on the elevator,” he said.

The suspect was dressed as an exterminator, The New York Times reported.

The brutal attack happened shortly after 4 p.m., lasted about a minute and was recorded by two video cameras, including one inside the small elevator.

Browne said the video showed the elevator doors opening to the fifth floor where Gillespie’s apartment was located and the assailant stepping in and spraying her.

Gillespie, who had grocery bags in her arms, turned about 180 degrees and then crouched in an attempted to protect herself, he said. But the man sprayed her directly in the face and continued to spray her “sort of methodically” over her head and parts of her body as the bags draped off her arms.

She turned around and retreated to the back of the elevator.

The charred, boarded up elevator where an innocent woman met her death.

At some point, Browne said, the suspect then pulled out a barbecue-style lighter, used it to ignite a rag in a bottle and then waited for a few seconds before using the flames to set her afire, causing smoke to fill the elevator.

The man backed out as she fell to the floor of the elevator, Browne said, and seemed to pause before tossing the bottle inside the elevator and onto her.

The suspect later turned himself into the police, reeking of the smell of gasoline.

In a recovered security video, the woman, Deloris Gillespie, is seen holding several bags of groceries, trying to exit the elevator on the fifth floor of her Prospect Heights apartment building. The time was 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. The doors open, and 47-year-old Jerome Isaac, dressed as an exterminator, blocks her way; he then proceeds to spray Gillespie in the face, and then “methodically” over her entire body, in accelerant.

She “turns and cowers, raising her hands, the grocery bags hanging from her wrists,” The New York Times reports.

Isaac then forces Gillespie into the corner, and has some difficulty as he tries to ignite a barbecue lighter. He finally succeeds and sets Gillespie on fire. He then steps back into the hallway, then reappears with a Molotov cocktail (“a wine or Champagne bottle filled with accelerant, with a rag stuffed in its neck”) and tosses it at her. The video cuts out as the elevator car erupts into flame, and Gillespie is burned alive.

A little less than 12 hours later, Isaac wandered into a nearby police station “reeking of gasoline,” according to cops. He then admitted to what he’d done:

    “He confessed to the crime, claiming that the woman owed him money for work he had done in the last year,” said Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the New York Police Department. Mr. Isaac did not specify the kind of work he had done, but said he was owed $2,000, Mr. Browne said.

According to Gillespie’s nephew, his aunt had hired Isaac to help her clear out her apartment, but fired him after she’d suspected he’d stolen some items from her, including “a VCR and a large cake pan.” Isaac posted an invoice to her door for $300, which she ignored. Soon after, Gillespie had added locks to her apartment door, according to another relative, and had reported Isaac to the police.

An elderly woman is burned alive in a horrific death as a freak sets her afire over money. Whatever happened to small claims court?

How foolish of me. I’m thinking like a reasonable human being and not a sick ass psychopath.  Logic doesn’t come into play in a horror story like this.   Looking for rationality or even sanity in what is clearly an irrational and insane act is a wasteful pursuit.

It doesn’t matter if Gillespie owed Isaac $2000 over $2 million.  Nobody deserves to die like that.

The many sick and depraved ways human beings treat each other comes at us so fast and furiously we can’t begin to process it.

  • Jorelys Rivera, 7, goes missing from a playground and turns up beaten, raped and dead in a dumpster;
  • At Florida A&M, drum major Robert Champion is beaten to death in a college hazing gone terribly wrong.
  • A father takes his one-year-old son with him to watch a rap video being made.  Gunfire is exchanged between two groups.  Seven people are injured with one fatality.  Hiram Lawrence would have turned 2 on December 28.   He never will.
  • Another father in New Jersey, weighs down his 2-year old daughter’s car seat with a tire iron and throws her into a creek to drown.  Arrested after a nationwide manhunt, Arthur Morgan III says nothing during a hearing where the prosecutor informs the judge, Tierra Morgan-Glover was “awake, alert and helpless” when her father threw her to her death.

Tierra Morgan-Glover was murdered by her own father.

Each and every day there is an all-new atrocity to shock us anew.   How many shocks to the system can a modern American take before they go completely numb?   You almost have to turn off your soul so as not lose your mind in what seems a world full of lunatics and homicidal nuts.  .

You can’t begin to take in all that’s wrong in this world.  If you don’t shut it out you’ll end up as mad as Jerome Isaac.

I never cease to be alternatively shocked and repulsed by how casually cruel and evil human beings can be to each other.   I look for the good in people can’t find it in the presence of all their evil in them.