Elisa Lam's death in 2013 caught everyone by surprise. The 21-year-old Canadian was visiting Los Angeles, and from the moment she was reported missing, the case got the world's attention.
Elisa Lam's death is just as mysterious as her final hours, perhaps even her whole stay in the City of Angeles. The mere fact that a young woman was staying in the infamous Cecil hotel gave this case more depth and gained even more public interest.
What happened to Elisa? What caused the death of Elisa Lam? Was it suicide? Foul play? And how did she end up on the top of the hotel, naked, in a water tank?
The Horrifying History Of The Infamous Cecil Hotel
Elisa Lam's death is not the first strange occurrence that happened in Cecil Hotel. The hotel is known for its sinister past.
Located near Skid Row, the hotel never stood a chance. But what went down between its walls since its opening in 1924, well, that is beyond reason.
Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia, was seen at Cecil days before her death.
Suicides started as soon as the hotel opened its door. The brutal rape and murder happened in the 60s, while in the 80s, the Cecil hotel's guest was a serial killer Richard Ramirez.
In 1991, Jack Unterweger, an Austrian serial killer, also stayed in this spot.
The fact that Wikipedia has a page written especially for dooms in the Cecil speaks volumes.
After so many tragedies, strange, unexpendable things, the Cecil hotel rebranding started in 2011. And then, in 2013, Elisa Lam's death once again proved that there is something dark, evil, strange happening inside this Historic-Cultural Monument.
Many claim the hotel is haunted. But is there anything more threatening than a person whose mind is playing tricks on them?
Elisa Lam's Elevator Footage
The family reported Elisa missing 19 days before her body was found. Lam was last seen in a hotel on January 31, 2013, in a viral video that created chaos on the web.
The Canadian student stayed in Stay on Main, part of Cecil hotel, with shared elevators. Initially, Lam shared a room with other young women but was soon requested to move out due to disruptive behavior.
After her family reported her missing, the police and search dogs went into her room. All her belongings were there, including her medications. As soon as the elevator footage went public, and everyone with an internet connection had an opinion.
It appeared that the young woman was scared, but there was no one around her. She was pacing, pressing buttons, and some even thought she was being playful.
That chilling video is still haunting online sleuths, as well as Lam's family and friends.
The tape raised many suspicions and was investigated fragment by fragment, but it still proved nothing. It was only days later that Elisa Lam's death would become public knowledge.
Burning Questions Surrounding Elisa Lam's Death
The hotel guests complained that the water was murky, with low pressure. A Cecil hotel employee went to check out water tanks and found Elisa Lam's body.
Elisa Lam was naked, floating in one of four water tanks, and many quickly suspected foul play. Her autopsy confirmed that she did not take her medications as prescribed, but it remains unclear whether she was assaulted or not.
One of the strangest things about Elisa Lam's death was that it was too similar to a horror film from 2005, titled Dark Water.
Reddit, Youtube, Facebook, Tumblr, everyone wanted to know what happened in those 20 days the young woman went missing.
Someone found her Tumblr diary, which did not reveal much. The excerpts were shown in the Netflix docu-series CrimeScene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel.
This documentary in-depth explained many questions surrounding the death of Elisa Lam, but the conclusion fell flat.
It even went into conspiracy theories, yet none of them explained how the student ended up in a water tank, naked.
Elisa Lam's Death As A Part Of Pop Culture
Ghosts, cults, wrong crowds, suicide, bipolar disorder all became parts of Elisa Lam's death. Almost ten years later, people are still obsessed with the chilling elevator footage. The fact that LAPD took nearly 120 days to release an official cause of death did not help the mass hysteria.
Daughter of Hong Kong immigrants David and Yinna Lam died of accidental drowning. Officially.
But how did she get on that rooftop? Even more, why would she go into a tank? And, finally, why would she take off her clothes?
Though Lam had bipolar disorder and depression, she was never suicidal, as her parents stated. If she was, why would she choose to climb into a water tank and drown?
The heavy lid on the water tank was opened, per maintenance worker, but even so, how did Elisa Lam pass the hotel's security, get to the rooftop, and what makes people suspect her autopsy report?
Some suggested that the rape kit revealed Lam was sexually assaulted, but that was not in the official report. So, what happened?
With so many questions, Elisa Lam's death became a part of popular culture. People are still baffled by this case, perhaps even more than in 2013.
Elisa Lam's Death Remains Another Cecil Hotel Mystery
Clearly, Elisa felt good enough to go on a trip alone. Though the Los Angeles Superior Court Judge ruled Elisa Lam's death as "unforeseeable," there must be a part of the puzzle missing.
Even hotel manager at the time, Amy Price, had a bad feeling:
"From the beginning, when Elisa went missing, I just had a bad feeling about it."
"She was traveling alone, and I really thought that she must have gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd, and that wouldn't be hard to do in downtown Los Angeles."
She denies that the hotel had anything to do with Elisa Lam's death, and there is no evidence leading in that direction.
The news reporter Lolita Lopez commented:
"In 22 years plus of doing this job as a news reporter, this is one of those cases that kinda sticks with me because we know the who, what, when, where. But the why is always the question."
Lam came from San Diego on January 26. On January 28, she checked into the Cecil Hotel. She was transferred to a room of her own as her roommates complained that her behavior was odd.
A woman named Katie, from a local bookstore told CNN that she saw Lam on the day of her disappearance:
"She was outgoing, very lively, very friendly."
One week after the missing person case investigation started, the police released 150 minutes of footage. Yet, the only thing out of the norm was the elevator scene.
Heavy Metal, "missing" 60 Seconds And Elisa Lam Tuberculosis Theory
The internet detectives claim that the video seemed to have been slowed down 30-35%, resulting in 53 seconds being unaccounted for. Yet, the hotel denies tampering with the footage.
As the case went from missing to Lam's death, things got even stranger: no physical evidence, no suspects, and yet, no ladders, no bruises, but too many coincidences.
Morbid, singer of heavy metal band Dynasty of Darkness, uploaded a video from Cecil Hotel. It contained a teaser for his new music video Died in Pain, which features a girl being chased in a forest to her death.
Yet, the musician was in Mexico at the time of Elisa Lam's death.
Dark Water was another morbid coincidence. Some claimed that Lam was playing a strange Korean game, which had to do with elevators taking you to another dimension. However, how did she get to the rooftop, climb, or reach the water tank, and why was she nude?
Another wild coincidence was a tuberculosis test called Lam-Elisa. It started theories that Elisa Lam's death was due to some unusual testing. Some even suggested she was supposed to bring tuberculosis to the LA citizens. But some theories are too wild to be even called theories.
Elisa's sister said Lam had "patterns" of previous episodes where she was afraid someone was after her. That would explain her elevator behavior. But the hatch was open, so if Elisa tried to hide in a tank, she could've gotten out once her episode was over.
The case of Elisa Lam's death will never cease to raise interest. The only time we saw so much interest was in the case of Gabby Petito. But, unlike Lam, Petito's autopsy gave us a complete and ultimate answer to how and where she died.
That sense of closure is something that we will unlikely see in Elisa Lam's death.
Who Or What Killed Elisa Lam Remains Hidden In The Cecil Hotel
It sounds like a plot of a murder mystery, but Elisa Lam's death is real, painful as she was only 21, with a loving family and bright future ahead.
Perhaps it was a bizarre accident. There are still many unexplored things regarding how our brains work. Even more, if you are battling with a severe mental health issue, things get even harder to grasp.
Often, the truth is stranger than fiction. But then again, it might as well be as straightforward as a freakish, tragic, and ultimately heartbreaking accident.
Elisa Lam's death will remain Cecil Hotel's secret, at least for the time being. Even more so if mental illness killed the student.