2013’s shocking death of Elisa Lam in a water tank at the infamous Cecil Hotel stunned Los Angeles. Nobody is aware of how she tragically died or how her body ended up there.
Here we know the who, where, when and what. However, the why and how is always the question.
Nobody is quite certain how Elisa Lam passed away up until now. We are aware that on January 31, 2013, the Canadian college student, age 21, was last seen in the Los Angeles Cecil Hotel. However, the extremely unsettling hotel security footage that documented the peculiar final seconds prior to her disappearance, let alone the other information that has since come to light, has only raised more concerns than it has provided answers. Her tragic fate has remained a mystery ever since her body was found in the hotel’s water tank on Feb. 19.
Although the coroner’s office stated that Lam drowned accidentally, the bizarre circumstances surrounding her death have given rise to a lot of speculative media coverage. Numerous ideas regarding the event have been put out by internet detectives, ranging from murder plots to paranormal activities. But where does the truth stand in regards to the strange death of Elisa Lam?
2013-01-26: Elisa Lam arrived in Los Angeles. She was on her own vacation along the West Coast and had just arrived by Amtrak train from San Diego. She was going to Santa Cruz. She was originally from Vancouver and the trip was meant to be a break from her studies at the University of British Columbia.
The young student was determined to undertake it all alone despite her family’s concerns about her travelling alone. Lam found a middle ground by making sure to contact her parents each day of the vacation to let them know that she was fine.
Her parents were therefore surprised when they had no communication from their daughter on January 31, the day she was supposed to check out of her Los Angeles hotel, the Cecil. The Los Angeles Police Department was eventually called by the Lams. The Cecil’s property was examined by the police, but they were unable to locate her.
Soon after, police posted on their website security video obtained from the Cecil Hotel’s cameras. This is when things started to get really strange.
Elisa Lam was captured on hotel surveillance footage acting very oddly in one of the building’s elevators on the day of her disappearance. Lam can be seen entering the elevator and pressing each floor’s buttons in the pixelated video. She enters and exits the elevator, peeking out in the corridors of the hotel in the interim. Before completely exiting the elevator, she peeks out of it a few more times.
Lam can be seen in the final seconds of the video standing near the left side of the door and making irrational hand motions. The only person seen in the video was Lam.
The bizarre video’s public response spread all the way to Lam’s family’s native China and Canada. Tens of millions of people have watched the four-minute video of Lam’s bizarre elevator incident.
Discovering the body of Elisa Lam
Two weeks after the authorities released the footage, on February 19, maintenance worker Santiago Lopez discovered Elisa Lam’s lifeless body floating in one of the hotel water tanks. After attending to hotel guests’ complaints about poor water pressure and an odd taste in the tap water, Lopez made the discovery.
The tank in which Lam’s body was discovered had to be completely drained before being cut up from the side to free her five-foot-four body, according to a statement from the chief of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Nobody knows how Lam’s body ended up in the hotel’s water tank or who else might have been involved. It was floating lifelessly next to the exact clothes that she wore on the CCTV video. Authorities were informed by hotel personnel that Lam was frequently observed alone while on the property.
When the autopsy findings in Lam’s case were made public, more concerns were raised. The toxicology report verified Lam had taken a number of prescription medications, most likely ones for her bipolar disorder. However, there were no signs of alcohol or illicit drugs in her body.
The testimony of hotel manager Amy Price in court lends a lot of weight to this hypothesis. Price claimed that Lam was first reserved in a dormitory-style shared room at the Cecil Hotel throughout his visit. Lam was sent to a solo, private room after her housemates complained about her “strange conduct.”
Elisa Lam may have experienced mental health problems, but how did she die? And how did she get inside the water tank of the hotel?
The analysed evidence did not support any suspicion of foul play after the autopsy. But because they were unable to study the blood from Lam’s decaying body, the coroner’s office stated that they were unable to conduct a thorough investigation.
Can this not be a suicide case?
The first person to discover Lam’s body, Santiago Lopez, went into great detail about the amount of work it took him to even locate her body.
Before ascending the stairs to the top, Lopez claimed to have taken the hotel’s elevator to the 15th level. He then had to deactivate the rooftop alarm and ascend to the platform housing the hotel’s four water tanks. To reach the top of the main tank, he eventually had to ascend another ladder. After all of that, he finally noticed something strange.
Lopez said, “I noticed the hatch to the main water tank was open and looked inside and saw an Asian woman lying face-up in the water approximately twelve inches from the top of the tank”.
According to Lopez’s statement, Lam’s ascent to the top of the water tank would have been challenging on her own. not without somebody noticing, at least.
Pedro Tovar, the hotel’s chief engineer, also made it apparent that getting to the rooftop, where the water tanks were, would be challenging without setting off the alarms. The alarm could only be properly deactivated by hotel staff. The front desk, as well as the entire top two floors of the hotel, would all hear the alarm if it went off.
The Haunted Backstory Of The Cecil Hotel
The unexplained death of Elisa Lam was not the first to occur at the Cecil Hotel. In fact, the property has a reputation as one of Los Angeles’s purportedly most haunted homes according to its dark background.
The Cecil Hotel has had 16 unusual non-natural deaths and mysterious paranormal occurrences since it first opened its doors in 1927. The 1947 murder of actress Elizabeth Short, sometimes known as the “Black Dahlia,” who was reputedly seen drinking in the hotel bar in the days before her gruesome death, is the most well-known death connected to the hotel, aside from Lam’s.
Some of the most renowned murderers in the nation have also stayed at the motel. Richard Ramirez, commonly known as the “Night Stalker,” resided on the hotel’s top floor in 1985 while committing his horrific murderous rampage. Ramirez allegedly dumped his bloody garments outside the hotel after a murder and came back half-naked. The hotel was in such chaos at the time that Ramirez’ nude prank hardly garnered any attention.
Another homicidal guest moved into the motel six years later: Jack Unterweger, a serial killer from Austria who went by the moniker “Vienna Strangler,”
One would assume that the Cecil Hotel would soon be condemned given its gruesome past. However, the Los Angeles City Council recently gave the structure landmark status. Due to the hotel’s opening in the 1920s, which is regarded as the start of the American lodging business, it was accorded the honour.
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You might want to take a look at German tourist Lars Mittank who mysteriously disappeared near a Bulgarian airbase
There’s a Netflix series based on the Elisa Lam incident: Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel