Good Samaritan offers to pay for burned NY woman's burial, never did

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The tragic death of a New York woman, burned in an elevator, has been compounded further by a good Samaritan who has yet to make good on his offer to cover her burial expenses. In mid-December, Deloris Gillespie, was burned to death in her apartment building’s elevator. The tragic death left her daughter, Sheila Gillespie-Hillsman saddled with expenses. A generous benefactor, Darren Weingrow, offered to pay for her mother’s expenses. The only problem is that he never did, according to the New York TImes causing Gillespie-Hillsman to suspect that he was just after publicity.

A fund was set up by Councilwoman Letitia James, but Mr. Weingrow has made no contributions to it. Officials at the funeral home, Unity Funeral Chapels in Harlem, told Ms. James that Mr. Weingrow had contacted them but had made no payments. The Midtown hotel where some of Ms. Gillespie’s relatives stayed during the funeral also heard from Mr. Weingrow but, likewise, received no money.

Mr. Weingrow said that he had made more than one good-faith attempt to give the Gillespie family $10,000, and that his failure to do so was a product of a series of errors.

Meanwhile, Ms. Gillespie’s daughter, Sheila Gillespie-Hillsman, an assistant school nurse in Gary, Ind., has been left to wonder if she was the victim of a publicity-driven hoax.

A call for help began shortly after Dec. 17, when Ms. Gillespie was set on fire, allegedly by a man she had once tried to help. Ms. James, whose Council district includes Ms. Gillespie’s neighborhood, solicited donations for the family. Mr. Weingrow called Ms. James’s office and offered to help; he described himself as a Wall Street financier, which a quick Google search seemed to confirm, so, Ms. James said, she put him in touch with Ms. Gillespie-Hillsman.

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