Elisa Lam would have been just some Canadian girl who came to LA, checked into the Hotel Cecil and went missing two days later, had this footage of her, from hours before her disappearance not been released to the public:

Public interest grew, trying to provide an explanation for the erratic behavior exhibited by both her and the elevator. The answers ranged from elevator malfunction, Lam’s bipolar disorder, effects of the drug ecstasy, some even suggested that she was trying to play the elevator game, a game that supposedly takes one to another dimension and back. Since at that point she was missing, theory was that maybe she had succeeded. It was also brought up that Lam had gone missing once earlier too. Meanwhile, other residents of Hotel Cecil began to complain of low water pressure or foul colored/smelling water in their rooms.

One morning, five days after the release of the video, a worker went up to the roof of the hotel to check the four 1000-gallon rooftop water tanks. In one of them, he found Lam’s body, floating face up a foot below the water surface, naked, her clothes and other personal effects floating around her. The coroner’s preliminary report called it an accidental drowning with bipolar disorder as a significant factor. All of Hotel Cecil’s short term guests left and those few people who still remained had to sign a waiver for health risks. The full autopsy revealed no traces of physical trauma or sexual assault, no drugs in her system apart from her medication, no evidence to suggest suicide.


The pieces that don’t fit:

  • How she got on to the roof: doors and stairs that access the hotel’s roof are locked with only staff having codes and keys. The fire escape however provides a valid bypass for that
  • How she got into the tank: Heavy lids protected the huge tanks that Lam could not have replaced if she had indeed climbed in herself. The opening of the tanks were pretty high up requiring ladders.
  • Why dogs found no trace of her on the roof or anywhere the roof
  • Why her death was ruled as an accident: It seems highly unlikely that she accidentally threw in her belongings and fell in naked into the tank by herself
  • Her phone was never found in her room or along with her body
  • Her Tumblr was updated more than once after her death: this could be linked to both the missing phone or Queue feature of Tumblr which allows users to automatically publish when they are away.
  • Her behaviour was characterized by friends she was travelling with as “unusual” since arriving in L.A. and following a few tiffs she moved into a room of her own although initially checking into a room together.
  • The autopsy was quite inconclusive in determining if death was homicide or not or if sexual assault occurred or not. The accuracy of tox screens are also questionable given the state of decomposition.

Leaving all this aside, let’s not forget the Hotel Cecil itself. The Hotel is known for several suicides and its criminal activity which includes three murders. The most famous housed by them include serial killers ‘Night Stalker’ Richard Ramirez in 1985 and Jack Unterweger in 1991, both in their active period. According to hotel staff, Richard Ramirez was “just dumping his bloody clothes in the dumpster at the end of his evening and going in the back entrance”.

The string of deaths tied to the hotel doesn’t just end there.

In 1962, Pauline Otton, 27, threw herself to her death from a ninth-floor window after arguing with her husband. She landed on pedestrian George Gianinni, 65, on the street below, killing him instantly. She was just one of numerous guests who ended their lives while staying at the run-down hotel.

In an unsolved murder in 1964, Pigeon woman, Goldie Osgood, who enjoyed feeding the birds in a nearby square, was found dead in her room. She had been stabbed, strangled and raped – and then had her room ransacked.

It would be remiss not to mention that this Hotel also happens to be the inspiration for the latest season of American Horror Story.

Keeping all of this in mind, here’s my theory of what happened: Elisa Lam may have been stalked and murdered by another resident of the Hotel during her stay there. This would explain knowledge regarding the fire escape access to the roof and the tank and he behavior. The elevator video is still unexplained, however and since the tox screens are inconclusive, it’s hard to say if she was drugged but it still doesn’t explain why the elevator is malfunctioning. Who knows, maybe there really are supernatural forces at play?

What killed Elisa Lam? Ghost, ghoul or a mortal soul? Do leave your theories in the comments!

By: Milie