What Really Happened To Elisa Lam?

Posted by Xavier Ortega | June 22, 2013 240


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.

  • corporalflashback

    Okay, what’s the name of the coroner? Show me a citation for that. I don’t like say lie because it’s an hyperbole. For instance, how do you know he is “lying” and not accidentally engaged in misinformation? Because when you rhetorical analysis, you have to differentiate, you just jumped to a hasty conclusion with your “unless he’s lying part”. I’m simply arguing not so much as the Elisa Lam case anymore as your twisted logic which is full of questionable fallacies that you’re speculating on or simply unwilling to substantiate your claims. In retrospect to the Elisa case, Source 1 claims her clothes were in the tank, Source 2 claims the clothes were scattered near the vicinity, and source 3 claim she was nude and no clothes were found. Which credibility do you take? What is your credibility or angle? (by angle I mean your profession to establish your credibility to input this matter)

  • Megan

    Do I really need to post this for you? *sigh* http://www.pdf-archive.com/2014/02/24/el-autopsy/preview-el-autopsy-22

  • Tenor Sax

    Megan is an argumentative bitch.

  • Megan

    Yeah, sometimes. What of it?

  • Waldemar Teoburg

    Show us

  • Waldemar Teoburg

    Water tank!
    Why the hell would a septic tank be on the roof?

  • Waldemar Teoburg

    Apart from serial killers living there this hotel has a history of people committing suicide from jumping out the windows of the hotel

  • Kseniya Cholock

    She walks in with confidence yet for some reason immediately starts pushing numerous buttons (this has happened before, pushing multiple buttons is her plan upon getting on). Had she had difficulty with the elevator before? Maybe she feels if she pushes more than one button it will take her up to one of these floors or it will get the door to close and go up (her prime objective to get the doors to close and the elevator to operate?) Believing pushing more than one button would be no different than multiple people selecting buttons for whatever floor they are headed to. She pushes these buttons multiple times then stands back and waits, nothing happens! Did she jam the elevator by pushing so many buttons? She waits, the elevator does not budge, she appears to move cautiously toward the door then “hurridly” sticks her head out looking “quickly” both ways before withdrawing back into the elevator. To see if someone is outside pressing the buttons outside? When she steps back in she moves to the side and then to the corner where the buttons are located as if trying to hide looking outside to the left of the door it appears. She then moves from the corner slowly to just inside the doorway, looking both ways, (you can barely tell) she steps a foot outside, then when she moves her left foot (still in the doorway) she brings it together with her right in a jump, then moves to the left and steps back in the elevator. What’s with the “jump?!” If you look carefully, she is looking toward the left, sneaking out when she places her right foot out and when she brings her two feet together, she is trying to surprise someone, maybe she is not visible to an area on the left untill she gets to where she lands on this jump. She wants to surprise whoever in this location, she’s trying to catch someone! Or something! She steps in, then steps out again and moves to the left where we can just barely see her, in all this time the elevator appears “stalled!” We can’t see much but when she re-enters the elevator we can see she had both hands on her head. When we put both our hands on our heads it is usually in “exasperation” (i.e. OMG!) She waited awhile before re-entering the lift and decides to once again try pushing numerous buttons, more this time than the first time. She’s trying to get the elevator to work!!! For some reason she keeps re-treating to “inside” the elevator where she appears to twice be hiding. She proceeds with caution when stepping out of the elevator, but always retreats to the inside of the elevator as if the anxiety she is experiencing is coming from “outside” the elevator, not inside. That whatever is not letting the elevator work is stemming from outside and not within it. She’s looking for the answer to the dilemma outside of the elevator. after pushing the buttons the second time multiple times more she steps once again outside the elevator! She just got done pushing the buttons why is she once again outside of it?! She steps to the left, bows and begins gesturing as if she is stroking a large dog (or ????) then opens both palms upward as if in conversation then continues gesturing, possibly counting on fingers as some have suggested, after which she walks off to the left (giving up?) and we see after a long wait, the door finally closes then opens shortly after, closes and opens rather quickly two more times!!! three times total! Yet it would not work when she was in it.- -I have personally experienced being in “a haunted elevator” although there’s serious problems when you start assigning a cause of death in a serious crime to a “spook” as opposed to a “real” killer.

  • Danny Pham

    Okay here’s likely what happened. Serial killer was stalking her through the hotel. She tries to escape in the elevator, but it won’t move. The creep is outside, he probably works or lives at the hotel is aware of the camera positions. Stays out of view while he stalls the elevator by holding the call button. She goes out tries to plead to him, he’s probably saying horrible shit right now like “im gonna kill you or something”. She gives up goes back in. The second time she goes out she realises she has no choice, there is no alternate path. Her psycho hand gestures at the end indicate immense distress. She might be coming to terms with her own death at this point and is hysterically pleading with the killer, making contorted gestures of pure distress. The killer knows exactly how to get away with it and she knows it. Defeated and without options, she leave and possibly tries to run. The man can run faster.

  • Duncan Rose

    I have a theory, ever heard of the ritual “The elevator game” I have an odd theory she tried to do that, and of course shit got out of hand.

  • Robbli

    My theory, it was just simply mental health related acting out fantasies (like with the lift not working), I don’t mean to say that in a demeaning manner either, whatever the reasons for your death, RIP Elisa.

  • Amanda Palay

    holy shit. this sounds accurate

  • Sam

    scariest game i have heard

  • Sam

    And the debate continues…

  • Megan