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Cecil hotel, the place where Death of Elisa Lam occurred

Death of Elisa Lam: Will We Ever Know What Really Happened?

In the realm of the unexplained, the tragic death of Elisa Lam stands as a chilling mystery that continues to haunt the minds of investigators and enthusiasts alike. The story, at its core, is as strange as it is disturbing. Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old Canadian student was found dead in a water tank of the Cecil Hotel, in Los Angeles, in 2013. The circumstances surrounding her death are shrouded in layers of mystery, leaving behind a series of unanswered questions and countless speculations.


Elisa Lam was on a trip to California, she traveled alone by public transportation. She visited the San Diego Zoo as seen from her social media profile. On January 26, Elisa Lam arrived in Los Angeles, and after two days, she checked into the Cecil Hotel, located near Downtown’s Skid Row. Initially, she was given a shared room on the hotel’s fifth floor. However, her roommates soon became uncomfortable due to what the hotel’s lawyer later referred to as “certain odd behavior.” Consequently, Lam was relocated to a room of her own after just two days.

According to Amy Price, the manager of the Cecil Hotel and Stay on Main during Lam’s stay, Lam exhibited unusual conduct. She left notes for her roommates, instructing them to “go home” and “go away.” Additionally, she started locking her room door and required a password for entry. A few days prior to her disappearance, Lam attended a live taping of Conan in Burbank. However, her disruptive behavior led to her being escorted off the premises by security.

Mental Health Issues

Lam had her own blog on Blogspot, in which she focused on fashionable clothing and models. Sometimes she would also write about her personal life, specifically her struggles with mental illness. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression, for which she had been prescribed several medications. She had no reported history of suicidal thoughts or attempts, though one report claimed she had a history of not taking her medications and had suffered hallucinations because of that. Reportedly she had been hospitalized once before because of that, and obviously many believe this had something to do with the death of Elisa Lam.

The Disappearance

Lam called her parents every day while traveling, until the 31st of January 2013. Her parents did not hear from her at all, and it was the day she was supposed to check out from the Cecil. The parents called the Los Angeles Police Department and flew to Los Angeles to help out with the search.

According to the hotel staff, Elisa was seen alone earlier that day and seemed very friendly and lively. The LAPD searched the hotel but couldn’t search all the apartments, since they needed probable cause to believe a crime had been committed.

The Bizarre Video Tape

The key piece of evidence in this mysterious puzzle is the surveillance footage from an elevator in the Cecil Hotel. The video, released to the public, depicts Elisa behaving erratically. She appears to be talking to someone unseen, gesticulating wildly, and pressing multiple buttons in the elevator. Strangely, the elevator doors don’t close throughout the video, adding to the eerie atmosphere.

What’s even more strange is the fact that the timestamp on the video seems to be oddly corrupted, leaving investigators puzzled whether or not the video has been tampered with. If this is true, it raises a sinister question: who would want to conceal the truth, and what could they be hiding?

Elisa Lam elevator video

Discovery of The Body

During the police search for Lam, the hotel guests started to complain about low water pressure. Some also claimed that their water had a strange color and taste to it. On the morning of February 19th, a hotel maintenance worker found Lam’s body in one of the hotel’s water tanks.

What makes this discovery very strange, is the fact that those water tanks are huge in size, 4-by-8-foot cylinders on top of concrete blocks. Additionally, they are located on the hotel roof and the access to the roof is locked with only staff having the keys. Anyone trying to go to the roof without permission would have triggered the alarm system.

The Hatch of The Water Tank

Whether the water tank hatch where Elisa Lam’s body was discovered was open or closed, remains a debated issue. During the initial investigation, an LAPD spokesperson stated on record that they found the hatch closed. However, in the Netflix documentary Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, the maintenance man insists that the lid was open when he made the discovery. This incoherence holds significant weight in the case. If the hatch was indeed closed, it would have been extremely challenging, if not impossible, for Elisa Lam to have shut it herself. This raises unsettling questions, implying the involvement of another individual in her tragic demise.

The Autopsy and Unanswered Questions

The autopsy report and its findings were questioned due to incomplete information. Specifically, the report failed to mention the results of the rape kit and fingernail kit tests or whether they were conducted at all. Additionally, the report noted the presence of subcutaneous pooling of blood in Lam’s anal area, a detail that raised concerns among some experts who suggested it might indicate sexual abuse. One pathologist pointed out that this blood pooling could have been a result of bloating during the body’s decomposition process. Moreover, Lam’s rectum was found to be prolapsed, adding another layer of complexity to the examination. The coroner’s pathologists themselves expressed uncertainty about their conclusion that Lam’s death was accidental.

The Paranormal Speculations

Given the hotel’s history—known for hosting infamous residents like Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker, and for being a setting in various paranormal accounts—some speculate supernatural forces might be at play. Could Elisa have fallen victim to malevolent entities that reside within the Cecil Hotel?

Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy theorists have also jumped on the bandwagon, proposing a multitude of explanations, ranging from government cover-ups to the involvement of secret societies. While these theories are largely unsubstantiated, they highlight the depths of speculation this case has reached.

The Quest for Answers

In the years since the death of Elisa Lam, amateur sleuths and online communities have tirelessly dissected the case, analyzing every piece of available evidence. They have pored over the elevator video, scrutinized the hotel’s history, and even attempted to recreate Elisa’s final moments. Despite their efforts, the truth remains elusive.


The death of Elisa Lam remains a mystery that defies rational explanation. As we delve deeper into the layers of this chilling tale, we find ourselves confronted with more questions than answers. The unsettling combination of the peculiar elevator video, the possibility of evidence tampering, and the hotel’s eerie history continue to fuel the imagination of those fascinated by the unknown.

In the heart of this mystery lies a profound lesson about the complexity of the human mind and the strange nature of existence. Until concrete evidence surfaces to dispel the shadows of doubt, the case of Elisa Lam will persist as a haunting reminder of the mysteries that lurk in the most unexpected corners of our world.

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