There are mysteries that are so eerie and strange that they boggle
the mind for days on end. The case of Elisa Lam is one of them. In
February 2013, this 21-year-old student from Vancouver, Canada, was
found dead inside the Cecil Hotel’s rooftop water tank in
Los Angeles. The L.A. County Department of Coroner ruled the death
“accidental due to drowning” and said no traces of drugs or alcohol were
found during the autopsy. However, there is much more to the story than
what is implied by police reports. The first piece of evidence that
needs to be considered is an elevator surveillance tape that recorded
Elisa’s behavior only a few moments before she lost her life.
The four-minute video posted on YouTube shows Elisa pressing all of
the elevator buttons and waiting for it to move. Seeing that the
elevator doors are not closing, starts behaving extremely bizarrely.
Here’s the video.
At first, Elisa enters the elevator and apparently presses all of its
buttons. She then waits for something to happen but, for some reason,
the elevator door doesn’t shut. She starts to look around, as if she is
expecting (or hiding from) someone. At 1:57, her arms and hands start
moving in a very strange matter (almost not human) as she appears to be
talking to someone, something … or nothing at all. She then walks away.
The elevator door then shuts and appears to start working again.
Right after the events of the video, Elisa apparently gained access
to the rooftop of the hotel, climbed to its water tank and, somehow,
ended up drowning in it. Her body was found two weeks after her death,
after hotel guests complained about the water’s taste and color.
Seeing the surveillance footage, most people would conclude that she
was under the influence of drugs. However, Elisa did not have a history
of drug use and her autopsy concluded that no drugs were involved. When
one looks at the context and the circumstances of this death, things
become even more mysterious.
Cecil Hotel’s Dark History
Built in the 1920s to cater to “businessmen to come into town and
spend a night or two”, Cecil Hotel was quickly upstaged by more
glamorous hotels. Located near the infamous Skid Row area, the hotel
began renting rooms on a long-term basis for cheap prices, a policy that
attracted a shiftier crowd. The hotel’s reputation quickly went from
“shifty” to “morbid” when it became notorious for numerous suicides and
murders, as well as lodging famous serial killers.
“Part of its sordid history, involves two serial killers, Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger.
Now on death row, Ramirez, labeled “the Nightstalker”, was living at
the Cecil Hotel in 1985, in a top floor room. He was charged 14 dollars
a night. In a building filled with transients, he remained unnoticed
as he stalked and killed his 13 female victims. Richard Schave, said “He
was dumping his bloody clothes in the Dumpster, at the end of his
evening and returned via the back entrance.”
Jack Unterweger, was a journalist covering crime in Los Angeles for
an Austrian magazine in 1991. “We believe he was living at the Cecil
Hotel in homage to Ramirez,” Schave said.
He is blamed with killing three prostitutes in Los Angeles, while being a guest at the Cecil.
In the 50’s and 60’s the Cecil was known as a place that people would
go to jump out of one of the hotel’s windows to commit suicide.
Helen Gurnee, in her 50s, leaped from a seventh floor window, landing on the Cecil Hotel marquee, on October 22, 1954.
Julia Moore jumped from her eighth floor room window, on February 11, 1962.
Pauline Otton, 27, jumped from a ninth floor window after an argument
with her estranged husband, on October 12, 1962. Otton landed on
George Gianinni, 65, who was walking on the side walk, 90 feet below.
Both were killed instantly.
There was also a murder of one of the residents. “Pigeon Goldie”
Osgood, a retired telephone operator, known for protecting and feeding
pigeons in a nearby park, was found dead in his ransacked room on June
4, 1964. He had been stabbed, strangled, and raped. The crime still
- Las Vegas Guardian Express, Elisa Lam, Morbid History Of Two Serial Killers Unfolds At “Cecil Hotel”
Elisa Lam’s case is yet another sordid addition to the hotel’s
history and can lead us to ask: “What the hell is wrong with that
The Movie “Dark Water”
The story of Elisa Lam is eerily similar to the 2005 horror movie
Dark Water. Dahlia, the main protagonist of the movie moves into an
apartment building with her young daughter Cecilia. Both of these names
are relevant. Black Dahlia is the nickname given to Elizabeth Short, a
woman who was the victim of a gruesome murder in 1947 – one that
appeared to be particularly ritualistic. The case was never solved.
According to LA Observed, it is rumored that Black Dahlia was at Cecil
Hotel right before she lost her life.
“The Black Dahlia, Elizabeth Short, is alleged in at
least one book to have hung out at the Cecil and drank at the bar next
door before she disappeared in 1947, though cultural historians Kim
Cooper and Richard Schave of Esotouric say that’s just rumor.”
- LA Observed, Serial Killer Central
In the movie, the daughter’s name, Cecilia, is, obviously, quite similar to the name Cecil Hotel.
After moving into her apartment, Dahlia notices dark water leaking
from the ceiling in her bathroom. She ultimately discovers that a young
girl named Natasha Rimsky drowned in the building’s rooftop water tank,
which caused the water to turn black. The owner of the apartment
building knew about this fact but refused to take action. Elisa Lam’s
body was in the water tank for over two weeks, causing hotel guests to
complain about foul tasting “black water”.
The ending of the movie is also eerily relevant: The apartment
buildings elevator malfunctions and the ghost of Cecilia’s mother braids
her hair. Is Elisa Lam’s death one of those ritualistic murders that
are synchronistically mirrored in a Hollywood movie?
Another Strange Coincidence
Shortly after the discovery of Elisa Lam’s body, a deadly outbreak of
tuberculosis occurred in Skid Row, near Cecil Hotel. You probably won’t
believe the name of the test kit used in these kinds of situations:
LAM-ELISA. That is hardcore synchronicity.
No Foul Play?
LA authorities ruled in June 2013 that Elisa Lam’s death was accidental
and that she was “probably bi-polar”. That being said, some questions
remain unanswered. How did Elisa, who was obviously not in her right
mind, end up in the hotel’s water tank, an area that is difficult to
access? Here’s a news report describing the water tank area.
As the reporter states in the video, the rooftop area is protected by
an alarm system and the water tank is difficult to reach. How did Elisa
reach that area? Also, how did she close the water tank lid?
As is usually the case for strange deaths, authorities have been
incredibly secretive and non-transparent during this investigation. What
truly happened here? Why are there so many strange coincidences? Why
was Elisa Lam acting so strange in the elevator? Was there a ritualistic
aspect to this death? Why is the Cecil Hotel a hotbed for these kinds
of stories? Is there some paranormal stuff going on there involving dark
entities? The mystery appears to be whole and authorities do not seem
to be wanting to probe further. Maybe I should cite here the slogan that
appears on Dark Water movie posters : “Some mysteries are not meant to be solved”.