Netflix Debuts ‘Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel’
Published in Feb 2021 / Updated in Mar 2021
Netflix released Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, a rare true-crime documentary about the mysterious disappearance of Elisa Lam.
Netflix is continuing to produce captivating true crime films and TV shows. And the latest series to join the likes of Unsolved Mysteries, American Murder: The Family Next Door, Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer is Crime Scene: Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel.
The long-awaited documentary series delves into the murky history of the infamous Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. It aired on February 10.
The show focuses on the 2013 disappearance of Elisa Lam, a Canadian tourist who stayed at the Cecil Hotel before her disappearance.
According to reports, Lam checked into the Cecil Hotel, only to disappear. She was found dead, floating in a water tank on the roof days later.
The Cecil’s staff only discovered Lam’s body after hotel guests complained of the water tasting and smelling funny, and sometimes running black.
While checking the source of water contamination, hotel staff found Lam’s body naked in the tank, with her clothes in there too.
Afterward, speculation began as to how she ended up in the tank.
Many people also questioned how she managed to lift the tank’s huge lid back after supposedly climbing in.
While there was little evidence pointing to what had happened, detectives released bizarre CCTV footage of Lam in an elevator prior to her disappearance.
The footage showed her pressing multiple buttons, waving her hands around, speaking and looking out as though someone was nearby.
Crime Scene: Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel ‘Set the Record Straight’ about Lam Disappearance
The documentary series includes creepy CCTV footage, interviews with detectives, reporters, and internet sleuths who tried to get to the truth.
The show also includes an interview with former hotel manager Amy Price, who worked at the Cecil for 10 years. During her time at the hotel, she reported at least 80 deaths.
When she first started working there, a caretaker gave her a tour of the hotel, showing her where former guests had died.
Price remembers asking the caretaker at the time:
“Is there a room here that maybe somebody hasn’t died in?”
“I never got used to that.”
Cecil Hotel’s Most Notorious Guests
Over the years, Cecil Hotel has been ‘home’ to a number of notorious serial killers, including Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger.
Ramirez, also known as the ‘Night Stalker,’ killed at least 14 people and attacked dozens more before his arrest.
It is believed he stayed in the Cecil Hotel in 1985.
Six years after Ramirez stayed in the hotel, Austrian journalist Jack Unterweger checked in for the first time in 1991.
Unterweger targeted prostitutes and killed women in Austria, the Czech Republic and Los Angeles.
In the Crime Scene: Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel trailer, one contributor explains:
“Throughout its history, the Hotel Cecil has always had a dark persona.”
“This is a place where serial killers let their hair down. For instance, Richard Ramirez, who had come back covered in blood, and no one’s got a problem with that.”
Other Dark History of the Cecil Hotel
The Cecil Hotel was built in 1927 by hotelier William Banks Hammer. He spent $1 million — in the 1920s cash — to build it.
But almost immediately after the Cecil opened, the Great Depression happened.
As a result, the hotel turned from Hammer’s dream of housing wealthy elites to hosting desperate and depressed working-class folks.
In its early years of business, drug abuse, prostitution, and a long string of deaths would define the hotel’s reputation.
In the 1930s alone, for example, at least six people reportedly committed suicide in the hotel.
The Cecil was also believed to have ‘insanity within its walls.’
For instance, in 1944, a teenage mom threw her newborn baby out of the window. Though the mom faced murder charges in court, prosecutors found her not guilty by reason of insanity.
Other incidents at the Cecil included domestic abuse, someone trying to burn down the hallways, assaults, stabbing, and someone slashing their own throat with a razor.
There’s also the mysterious death of a 22-year-old, Elizabeth Short. Elizabeth was last seen having a drink at the Cecil Hotel just days before her gruesome murder in 1947.