What killed Elisa Lam, whose body rotted for 2 weeks in a hotel water tank?

WARNING:

This post, especially the surveillance video at the end, will unnerve you. Make your own judgment as to what happened to Elisa Lam, but note that the title of this post is “What killed Elisa Lam,” not “Who killed Elisa Lam”.

Elisa Lam

On February 19, 2013, the body of Elisa Lam (pic above), a 21-year-old college student from Vancouver, Canada, was found in a gigantic water tank on the roof of Cecil Hotel, a rundown hotel in Los Angeles’ tenderloin district which marketed itself as cheap lodging for international tourists but also rented rooms to long-term residents.

Cecil Hotel2Cecil Hotel1

The young woman had traveled alone to California for tourism, arriving on January 27. Reportedly in daily contact with her parents in Vancouver, Lam was last seen by hotel employees on January 31, which meant her body had been in the water tank for more than two weeks.

Indeed, for two weeks guests at the Cecil Hotel had complained of low water pressure and a foul taste in the water. After the discovery of Lam’s body, L.A. County health officials at first issued a do-not-drink order. After conducting two tests of the water, officials declared the water was safe from a “microbiological standpoint.” Chlorine in the water probably killed any bacteria in the tank where Lam’s body was found. 

On June 20, 2013, Los Angeles Coroner’s Lt. Fred Corral said Lam’s body had no signs of trauma indicating foul play, and ruled her death “an accident with bipolar disorder listed as a significant condition,” without elaborating what “significant condition” meant. Toxicology tests found nothing that contributed to her death. Authorities have not said how they believe Lam got into the tank. She had simply “accidentally drowned.”

But as you can see from the pictures below of the hotel’s water tanks, how Lam could have climbed up to the top of the 8-foot tall, 4-foot diameter tank, pushed aside the lid, “accidentally” fell into the tank, then put the lid back on and “accidentally drowned” defies a rational explanation.  For an assailant to drag her  body up to the top of the tank would be even more difficult.

The only ways to get to the roof are via a fire escape and a locked door to which only employees have access. The door is equipped with an alarm system that notifies hotel personnel if someone is on the roof.

Cecil Hotel water tanksCecil Hotel water tanks1

The hotel has a checkered and rather spooky history, including: 

  • “Night Stalker” serial killer Richard Ramirez, who died of cancer June 7 while on death row for 13 slayings in the 1980s, had lived on the hotel’s 14th floor for several months in 1985.
  • In 1962, a female occupant jumped out of a hotel window, killing herself and a pedestrian.

Before the discovery of her body, police searching for Lam had released a surveillance video of the hotel elevator, showing her behaving oddly — pushing buttons for multiple floors, peering out of the elevator, stepping in and out of the elevator, waving her arms, and seemingly trying to hide herself in a corner. The video triggered widespread speculation and conspiracy theories about her death on the Internet in the U.S., Canada, and especially in China, where the video went viral.

Warning: The video is disturbing, more so than a horror movie because it’s not a movie. Please watch the video till the end, even after Lam had exited the elevator. Tell me if you see movement in the wall of the elevator, including a face. I’m not joking.

Sources: USA Today; CBS News; L.A. Times; CNNVigilant Citizen.

~Eowyn

81 responses to “What killed Elisa Lam, whose body rotted for 2 weeks in a hotel water tank?

  1. I will not tell you

    Did anyone see the dark figure next to the buttons that looked like her and was pressing the buttons. Creepy!!!

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  2. This is what I noticed…

    How long do elevator doors take to automatically close? Here, you see, the first time is about 8-9 seconds… it starts to close, then stops. It reopens, and stays open… Keep in mind, she is not touching any buttons at this point, and by the looks of it, has depressed a few floor buttons.

    By the looks of it.. that elevator was put onto service by someone.. as a hold door open button usually only lasts a short while or while held.

    Food for thought anyway…

    I would also add, that I myself, would only push multiple buttons is so that someone watching from a different floor couldn’t track which one it stopped at easily. It’s one of the few things you can do to confuse a pursuer, if forced to use an elevator for escape.

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  3. I dont understand it!!!!! Everybody says that she can’t be killed, but how would a young girl do this all?????? Kill the security system, climb up on a 3 metres tall water tank and close it before die??? Bullshit! Somebody killed her!!!!!

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  4. Did anybody think that maybe she did meet someone who whilst in the elevator was being playful with. Maybe she was going to ride to the top floor and try to beat whoever she was with up to the roof. It is possible they both went to the roof and playfully decided to take a swim in the tanks, and perhaps she accidentally drowned. Not wanting to be caught up in her death and be perhaps accused of something they didn’t do…the person wit h her left.

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