What Really Happened To Elisa Lam?

Posted by Xavier Ortega | June 22, 2013 254


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.

The following two tabs change content below.
Based in Brooklyn, NY, I write about all things creepy and strange. My book based on the real haunting of Doris Bither (The Entity 1982 movie) will be released fall of 2016. Got a question? Drop me a line.

Latest posts by Xavier Ortega (see all)

254 Responses

  • Kathy

    Why is it that she was missing for 3 weeks and yet no one says whether or not she ‘checked herself out’ (of the hotel)??? She wasn’t supposed to leave for another day or two I believe. Wouldn’t they check the hotel register?

  • mysteryman

    On her instagram page you can see a picture of her solving a crossword puzzle…but whats perplexing is the seemingly random drawings on yhe crossword puzzle closely resemble ancient esoteric symbols not to mention THE 666 scribbled on the puzzle page

  • mssweetdee

    What is her instagram

  • Waldemar Teoburg

    Show us

  • Susan Hutchinson

    there’s a good post on this
    at http://angelomarcos.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/the-mysterious-case-of-elisa-lam/
    . I read about this event there first, and then found loads more webpages
    (including this one) on google. There’s so much info around so how can they not
    know what happened?!

  • Eee

    Wayyy late on this, but just read about this story today. To me, it looks like she kept pressing the door open button With all the other buttons(why the doors stayed open) and she couldnt figure out why they wouldn’t close (why she kept going in and out, pressing buttons again, waiving at the door, hiding in the the corner). I have literally seen people do all of that trying to get the doors to close on an elevator. Also she probably got confused and frustrated, that’s the hands on head and weird hand motions, and I’m super flexible and my hips are weird so could easily and thoughtlessly replicate that weird foot thing she did. I do some weird shit on the elevator when i think noone can see me, like dance around and stuff lol.I do find it weird however, that time is missing from the video and if the water tower was in fact locked from the outside.

  • 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/

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • Megan

    Well then you are “basing this” off incorrect information. Unless you think the police and coroner are lying for some reason.

  • corporalflashback

    I never said anything about lying? how about using another word less threatening…. like “misinform” yeah that’s a good work to sway argument rather than insinuating. As I were; If you read the initial news, police stated her clothes are off and around the vicinity, later the police revealed no clothes were found, so you tell me.

  • Megan

    Are you dense? I just told you … twice…that the coroner who did the autopsy clearly stated the clothes were in the tank with her. Unless he is lying, that ends the debate. The coroner’s official report is on the web. Look it up. Why are you still arguing? Either come out and say that the coroner lied about the clothes (why?) or admit you are desperately searching for a conspiracy where none exists!

  • 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)

  • Tenor Sax

    Megan is an argumentative bitch.

  • Megan

    Yeah, sometimes. What of it?

  • Sam

    And the debate continues…

  • Hunter

    I think this is what happen, in my perspective :

    She was just playing around to push those buttons (because she’s very relaxed), in minutes 0.09-0.10 strange thing happen when the elevator seems like being held, cos it wont close. That’s when she’s starting to think if there’s someone out there pushing the button to hold the elevator, and that’s when she starts to freak out and thinking if there’s ‘someone’ outside. This someone, I think she doesn’t know how or what it is.

    In minutes 00.42, she’s looking to the left (where she came from from the first time entering the elevator) and in minutes 00.49 she’s jumping around like trying to ‘scare’ something to go away. (1st stage possession always with signs; voices, moving stuff or something like that usually they will make you to desire to follow the leads) – I think before this tape she must’ve feel the signs, but ignore it.

    In minutes 1.05, the strangest thing happen when I think she’s loosing control of herself; I think it’s possession (you can see first she’s close her hands and then suddenly her hands drop just like that, and it’s the 2nd stage of possession). Then she start on hearing something speaking to her (as she put her hands to her head – she’s confused) and start to act like she’s someone else (you can see by how she push those buttons, with two hands this time)

    In minutes 1:46 she’s possessed again by ‘something’ and this time is fully possessed of claiming her (begin of 3rd stage), she’s not her anymore. ‘Something’ has full claiming her, and talk to her. But she’s fighting ‘something’ over claiming her. There’s a 3 seconds pause (2:21) as then she walk away to the left, this time ‘something’ has already ‘inside’ full 100% and later the elevator close up after a while.

    Possession is like schizophrenia, only the thing is it’s not your brain. It’s the devil who’s speaking and eat your soul and spirit, chain them and enslave them, which in the end brings them to their kingdom. The difference between both are, possessed people react to holy words and objects (disgust, anger and contempt).

    The thing that happen in the tank, must’ve been the same pattern like this one.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sam

    scariest game i have heard

  • Duncan Rose

    I have grown out of this silly theory

  • 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.

  • Amanda Palay

    holy shit. this sounds accurate

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Martin351

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Ethan

    I don’t think it could be a haunting because y would u go to the trubble to open a big water tank to drown y not just jump off the building and wouldn’t drowning make u suffer a bit and jumping would kill u fast so if she was in the control of a ghost mabey the demon wanted her to suffer for somthing she did

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.