What Really Happened To Elisa Lam?

Posted by Xavier Ortega | June 22, 2013 221


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.

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  • Angelo Ramos

    Ok, i know that all satanic human/demonic sacrifices requires the person naked, knowing that she was found naked and her clothes disappeared. Something is wrong with that hotel, why theres only one camera, was the others in the halley all santified broken? how did she got access to where the water reservatory was? Something was disturbing her for her to get in the elevator that way, if i felt panic, i would probably click on all elevator buttons, just wanted it closed, SOMEHOW, it didn’t close… look how affraid she was in while she was looking fast at both sides of the halley and then tried to hide, she was afraid of beeing caught by something and something evil was starting to take control of her. Now, why does she alucinates that she is swimming and does all that moves with her hands? Smells like satanic work/possession starting taking control of her. And then she’s not seen anymore… When she leaves, the elevator started working and going all around freely in every single floor.. I guess that hotel has some hidden room that after this, they caught her and did the ritual, or it was all already made by taking control of her mind..

    MY GUESS: She was murdered by satanists, served as sacrifice, 80% of probability of people that are connected to that hotel.

    How I believe that theres dark magic somewhat included in this? Because i’ve seen it alot and they do work! I wish and lust for absolute VENGEANCE !

    You don’t believe me? Take the chance to read this and see how the hotel has bad enegies: http://www.documentingreality.com/forum/f239/i-there-elisa-lam-136004/

  • Howsketchy

    Actually it may. Maybe there was some wacko who was a Ramierez follower hell bent on getting one last kill in his name for him as some sort of tribute?? Idk all the details on it all but yah.

    Also, all the yelp reviews complain how the front desk was so money crazed they were sending security up to apartments at 2 am to request that nights payment, and WAYY over charging people, harassing them to pay for nights and whatnot. But yet they let some random person stay for weeks without paying and the supposed housekeepers didn’t notice that nothing in her room was moved EVER all her stuff was in the same place, her phone, wallet, ect? And she also hadnt paid in over a week or two? Especially when the slumlord hotel owners were harassing everyone on yelp at all hours of the day for cash?? Weird..

  • Matthew Mosier

    I agree with you that she probably heard something, in fact, upon closer viewing she appears to be leaning forward listening rather than noticing that the elevator door is not closing as it should. She steps out to see the cause of the possible voice (potentially a spiritual entity) strangely looking to the right of the elevator (if she believed someone was following/ stalking her, why look for danger in the direction she would have been facing when she entered the elevator?) After this perusal she is again in the elevator and from what I can see she believes the voice/ voices to be walking past the door so she hides in the corner where nobody would be able to see her. To back up this theory I offer another bit of evidence, which is that the next time that Elisa exits the door she first pauses, apparently listening, and then looks to the left, as if the person she thinks is out there should now be on that side. Personal belief is in the spiritual explanation to the story. I think she actually saw or at least heard what she thought was a person outside the elevator door and as the encounter gets progressively worse she actually sees something that the video was not able to record. (Anybody else notice that the way her hand was moving was similar to the way it would have were she running it over the top of a little childs head?)

  • mssweetdee

    What is her instagram

  • jessievintagechic

    I’ve read Lam’s story on a ghost blog a few months back but just recently I was finally able to watch her last video on youtube. It was undeniably creepy and disturbing. I don’t know if it was just me, but can anyone tell me if you see something or someone on the video? I thought I was seeing things or if it was because of the poor definition of the camera. But as I read the comments, some people have seen the figure on the video as well. Honestly, I am a skeptic because there are a number of possibilites that would contribute to her death. Still what do you guys think of it? It could have been one of the employees sabotaging the situation.

  • shellwants2play

    I think its a hoax too. I have studied this case for months but am shocked at the lack of personal history Elisa has, she wasn’t really a student anywhere, she signed up but didn’t take classes, she has no actual friends or family that have come forward. There are no actual photographs of her apart from the few posted in a single year on her social media (which are all easy to plant) I see no posts or news from any real friends or family of hers. The video is very eery but i think the it shows nothing. W simply see what we are supposed to see, isn’t that obvious? The whole thing screams set up, from the second she walks into the elevator, also the symbolism is so predictable, almost as if some marketing team actually sat down for a long time trying to come up with something good… A best seller, a movie! (they sold rights to a movie based on this case last year!) It could also have been faked to boost profit in the area. The whole area around the hotel is like a Movie museum with locations where famous blockbusters were shot. The hotel is not what it used to be and the area is going downhill fast and losing its appeal to many tourists. A story like Elisa’s would drive tourism up. This hotel has always had a history but it’s been a while since something tragic and newsworthy happened there!

  • Pat

    This what I think happened:

    Elisa was running from somebody, or something, and that’s why she is acting so weird at the elevator. When she ducks her head out she was making sure he/she wasn’t following her. Then when she steps out of the elevator and is waving her hands, she is getting somebody’s attention (like a worker or cleaning lady) to tell them to help her because of the malfuncting elevator. When they don’t hear her, she finds the stairs and the fire escape and ends up getting on the roof. Trying to hide from whatever is chasing her, she stays up there. He/she finds her, maybe sexual assaults her, and throws her in the tank. Her clothes are off because of the decomposing body and they find no evidence of assault because she is decomposing. Want to know something weird? I found about this yesterday, February 19 2015, exactly two years after she was found.

  • corporalflashback

    Being in water for more than 2 weeks it’s almost impossible to determine if drugs were in her system. Suicide is very unlikely, her clothes were missing and were nowhere within the vicinity. She would not have reached the top the cistern without a lift or some type of apparatus, like a ladder. I this its plausible to assume it’s a homicide. Perhaps a friend that elisa recently met in LA, in the video she is at the 14th floor, her room was at the 4th floor, its likely that she was visiting somebody. As for the suspect or suspects, they may have given her a psychoactive drug, presumably ecstasy, which explains her behavior. However, their intent weren’t to kill her, but to just rob her, or have sex (rape) but didn’t go as expected, so dumping her body into a cistern was the best way to ensure that they have enough time to get away. So the drug caused her death because there were no signs of struggle or cuts. It’s also speculated if anybody killed her, it’s a person who knows hotel and it’s electronic systems to access the top, perhaps a worker former worker, or a person who is familiar with maintenance.

  • Megan

    Her clothes were in the tank with her. Read the autopsy report (it’s online).

  • Megan

    Her clothes didn’t “disappear”. They were found at the bottom of the tank. She took them off after she got into the tank but before she drowned (obviously).

  • corporalflashback

    Depending on the source, its reported that cloths were there and not there. I’m basing this off the initial news crew/source first at the scene. The clothes were nowhere to be found.