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Home » California, Conspiracies, Ghost Theories, Headline, Macabre, Mystery of History, Videos, Weird news

What Really Happened To Elisa Lam?

Submitted by on June 22, 2013 – 8:25 AM192 Comments | 100,601 views


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.

  • Melanie Hamilton

    Agreed, but I LOVE some people’s imaginations. Maybe she saw the movie “Dark Water” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwukryrRCic) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBo97iCbE_0) and while in a paranoid schizophrenic state, (maybe after the elevator started malfunctioning like in the movie) started mimicking, and possibly climbed up the fire escape, took off her clothes and threw them off the building, and went in the tank to hide. It is awfully similar..

  • larangine

    Those weird movements seems like mimicking to me. Maybe she was mimicking someone blind, trying to explain her bad eyesight (as I read in some sites). But she was definitely talking to someone.

  • Amsole11

    This story is a year old now but I recently heard about it. It’s sad and terrifying and perplexing. There are so many unanswered questions. Someone should try to logically reinact the last steps of Elisa personally to try to ascertain what might have really happened.
    Here’s what I think happened: I’ve read customer comments about Cecil Hotel about how staying there gives a sense of impending doom and how creepy the hotel is. Also, you are not allowed to have guests up in your room. So I think these things got to Elisa, especially since she’s bipolar- adding to her mania and other feelings she may have gotten. This is not a hotel for someone with mental illness to be staying at- especially alone.
    I’ve also read that the elevator is known to act faulty. This fueled her mania and paranoia which caused her to start act bizarrely. Even normal people do strange things when thy are alone and scared, with her bipolar disorder this just shows how her fear got to her.
    She just snapped. She lost a sense of reality. She was pushed over the edge by fear and terror that an otherwise healthy individual could tolerate. She decided to take the stairs and in her lost and frantic state of mind she found her way on the roof. Maybe she thought she was being chased in her delusional state.
    Where it gets really tricky is how she got in the water tank and how the alarms didn’t go off. It’s a very old hotel and quite run down- its possible that the alarm wasn’t even working properly. Either way, somehow she found herself in the water tank by her own doing. She was not in the right state of mind. I don’t feel that she intended to kill herself, I think in her mind she somehow felt to hide in there. She was probably naked because her clothing naturally fell off of her by her decomposing body.
    I also do think the hotel is haunted: no one that is mentally unstable even slightly should stat in a haunted place. It’s like throwing a flame to a gas leak.
    It’s so very sad what happened to her and my heart goes out to her and her family.
    Rest in peace Elisa Lam

  • DrFilth

    This guy. I like this guy. (Er, lady.)

  • whatever
  • kf

    I have bipolar disorder, and never have i once even thought of committing suicide because of that. Nor have i ever acted out like that. I have panic disorder too, still don’t feel the need to somehow get onto a secure roof top, take my clothes off, and hop into a water tank that must have been extremely hard to get into. I find it funny how terrible the police do at lying to the public, and i find it even funnier how many people f***ing believe it,

  • alice

    only in america / canada. You don’t feel her “movements are so unusual?” This girl had a mark on her long before she got into that
    elevator. She was nuts. Psychotic. Westernized – dumbed down.
    Only a mater of time. Crawled into the tank like anyone without

    a proper serotonin balance would. There is no mystery.
    Needless drama leading to death.

  • Vienna

    I don’t see AT ALL how Richard Ramirez dying has anything to do with her death. Yeah, he stayed in the same hotel. Ooooo, spooky.
    You’re grasping at straws. I think she was murdered too, but its not some grand conspiracy. It’s just bad police work.

  • Peaches

    I would venture to guess that she was leaning in so close to read the numbers because she didn’t have her glasses… which has been noted as unusual for her.

  • Peaches

    I’ve seen that video as well – it’s actually 54 seconds that are missing – still, a lot can happen in just shy of a minute.

  • Jason Bland

    An hotel employee, most likely security, was possessed by the spirit of a serial killer who used him to kill Elisa. Elisa herself was being influenced by the evil spirit that was feeding off her fear. She saw the employee and tried to run from him but he controlled the elevator and eventually she was rendered unconscious by the entity or the employee. The employee had access to the roof and knew how to bypass the cameras and security systems then he dropped her in the tank and closed her in. It would look like she drown since she was unconscious and when she woke up for when she started choking on the water the evil entity fed off her fear. Most likely the employee has no memory of doing this. The employee most likely has his own issues and mental problems but this Hotel has a history of attracting these type of individuals to it. Just my feelings on it. Sadly we will never know since the police gave up on this case and ruled it accidental death.

  • nevermind

    You people are dumb bipolar does not cause this type of behavior I’m very much so bipolar paranoid and extreme anxiety disorder even during my worst crippling panic attacks where I’ve been hospitalized for weeks there is no hallucinations or ridiculous unexplainable actions like this. If she was a paranoid schizophrenic that would be a different story. Id believe the crazy ghost story before I pegged it on bipolar…. Research before you write dumb shit people