What Really Happened To Elisa Lam?

Posted by Xavier Ortega | June 22, 2013 251


A block away from where I live stands the Hotel Cecil. A tall, tower-like complex with a history almost as sordid as the one that haunts the Tower of London. Hotel Cecil has always been known as the place where serial killer Richard Ramirez, aka The Nightstalker, lived for some time. rramirez
The hotel also housed another serial killer whose victims were all prostitutes. The cold-blooded Austrian serial killer, Jack Unterweger.

The Hotel Cecil is once again making headlines. However, it’s not because of another serial killer but rather of the mysterious and eerie death of Canadian tourist Elisa Lam.

The body of 21 year-old Elisa Lam was found floating inside one of the hotels water tanks on February 19th of this year. When the LAPD was called to the scene they requested any surveillance video the hotel might have kept for the last few days. It was then that the LAPD stumbled into the controversial and bizarre video of Elisa Lam’s last moments.


This video was taken minutes before she died and shows an obviously mentally unstable Elisa Lam entering and exiting the elevator in the hotel’s lobby. At times appearing to be talking to herself and acting erratically. This video went viral in the popular Chinese website Youku.com, generating more than 3 million hits in the span of a week or so. It comes as no surprise that rumors about possession instantly began as soon as the video hit the internet.

To inject any paranormal or conspiracy theories into the case would be demeaning Elisa Lam’s death. It’s obvious that something is not right. Her abnormal behavior in the elevator suggests that she may be hallucinating or under a severe form of psychosis. Yet most of the comments you read are from those who believe that either Elisa Lam was possessed or haunted, therefore causing her to commit suicide.

After keeping the public in suspense for months, the LAPD finally released the results of Elisa’s autopsy and toxicology screen. They didn’t find any drugs in her system, ruling Elisa’s death as accidental.

Drugs did not contribute to the death of a Canadian tourist whose body was discovered in a water tank atop a downtown Los Angeles hotel four months ago, coroner’s officials said.

A maintainence worker discovered the body of Elisa Lam, 21, on Feb. 19 after residents of the Cecil Hotel complained about low water pressure. At the time Lam had been missing for several weeks from the hotel after traveling there from Vancouver, Canada.

Los Angeles County coroner’s officials said Thursday that Lam died of an accidental drowning. Herbipolar disorder was a significant condition but authorities did not elaborate.

Coroner’s officials noted that the medical examination found no visible signs of trauma on the body and toxicology tests found nothing that contributed to her death.

Lam had been missing for three weeks before being found. During that time, detectives with the LAPD‘s robbery-homicide division appealed to the public for help in the case that included the release of video of her inside a Cecil Hotel elevator. In surveillance footage, Lam could be seen pushing buttons for multiple floors and at one point stepping out of the elevator and waving her arms.

The only ways to get to the roof are via a locked door that only employees have access to and a fire escape. The door is equipped with an alarm system that notifies hotel personnel if someone is on the roof, Los Angeles police Sgt. Rudy Lopez said.

Lam’s case inspired amateur sleuths to post numerous theories on websites about what might have happened to her. International media outlets, particularly in Canada and China, have also continued their coverage of the story.

Much of the speculation focused on the surveillance video of Lam in the hotel elevator. The video went viral on the Chinese video site Youku.com, with more than 3 million views and 40,000 comments in a 10-day span.

Many commenters said they were disturbed by the tape, with one calling it “spooky.”

“I knew about Elisa Lam but this is the first time I saw the video,” one wrote. “I’m so scared, I’m shaking. I’m numb.”

-LA Times

The strange circumstances surrounding her death keep haunting Elisa Lam.

Many are not content with the police’s investigation into the case, asking why the alarm did not go off when she opened the door that lead to the rooftop? Or why would she commit suicide by drowning herself inside a dark water tank as opposed to simply just jumping off the ledge of the building. The flames of conspiracy keep being fanned by the LAPD’s secrecy on the case.

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I'm a writer, a runner, and a hell of a coffee drinker residing in Los Angeles. I'm currently working on a book about Doris Bither and her terrifying account of a haunting in Culver City, California. The case was dubbed "The Entity" and it stands to be one of the most controversial cases ever to be studied by parapsychologists.

  • Jesse Osbaldo

    Unless the killer is a Table, She tries place her hands on an imaginary table at one point and even looks BOTH ways signaling that no one is there, she even does a weird dance with her feet which if a killer was RIGHT there you would NOT do, She places her feet to the left backs in goes to the right then comes OUT then to the side again as if doing a ritual, The video behavior indicates no one is there and when she enters she doesn’t enter scared, she simply enters then presses buttons in almost calm manner, I just watched the video a bunch of times, it doesn’t add up, I vote NO on your theory.

  • Emily

    Most logical and sensible theory on here. The alarms on the exit doors are on when it’s locked. I think an employee forgot to lock it after being in the roof, and it got locked the next time an employee was up there.

  • Martin351

    Mental health wasn’t an issue. Family came forward and said there was no issues.

    You also have to take into consideration those lids on the water tanks take about 4 people to move and they have to be quite strong to do so. There was no way in hell she moved it by herself, and definitely could not have put the lid back on once in the tank.

    If you watch the video closely, the frame right before she walks off shows another foot. There was something else there to the left of the elevator that was manipulating her.

  • Martin351

    So how would the killer have moved a lid that takes 4 strong people to move?

  • 80sGuy

    Acid stays in your system for more than 7 years.

  • Roy John Erikson

    If there was someone outside the elevator she should have just stayed in the elevator since the killer would not want to be on camera If she stayed there long enough someone would have eventually came by to use the elevator.

  • Roy John Erikson

    I am wondering why she didn’t have her glasses on since her Mom said she has to wear glasses all the time to see clearly.

  • http://techobook.com Divyang Makwana


  • David Cannon

    Yah they are dumb, tank was only 4 ft wide, the doors were maybe a ft, they werent even big enough to get her corpse out of, its the internet jumping to conclusions or accepting lies without actually looking at it.

  • Mick Price

    “however, they pronounced her time of death VERY soon after she disappeared from the elevator footage (no clinging- she drowned almost immediately). ”
    I don’t see how that could possibly be true. T.O.D. is very imprecise after several days. There is no way they could narrow it down even to a half hour.

    From http://www.todbase.org/intro.html
    “Measurement of the temperature difference between the brain and the environment, which has been regarded as the most precise method, may only be used for 16 hours after death. Such measurements performed within the first six hours after death has a confidence interval of ±1.5 hours the first 6 hrs after death, increasing to ± 4.1 hr after 16 hrs.”

    So even after a few hours T.O.D. is far too imprecise to tell if she hung on for a half hour before drowning. If they could get it down to a 6 hour time period after maybe a week that would be amazing.

  • Mick Price

    Hallucinations are a known side effect of the medications she was given. There is a simple explanation for all of this. Drugs fucked up her mind, she did something stupid. There is no reason to believe the roof was secure, or that she took her clothes off before getting in the tank, which wasn’t hard to get into. The tank looked like a good hiding place. Then she took off her clothes to allow her to swim for a little longer.