California

Disappearance of Elisa Lam

January 31, 2013
Los Angeles, California
Elisa Lam disappears from the Stay on Main motel (previously called the Cecil Hotel)

While investigating her disappearance, a video of Elisa acting strangely in the hotel’s elevator was discovered, having been recorded February 1. She seems to be playfully hiding from someone as she enters and leaves the elevator at various floors, peeking out or jumping out as if to catch or scare someone. She also moves her hands and arms in a bizarre fashion (approximately 1:55 in this video), and the elevator doors appear to stay open far longer than normal.

Elisa’s body was recovered from the hotel’s water tank on February 19, naked, with her clothing and personal effects in the tank with her. Her autopsy later revealed no trauma to her body and her death was ruled accidental.

Several issues cause the case to remain unsolved, including how Elisa was able to get into the water tank, as doors and stairs to the tank were locked and only accessible by employees. Also, the tank in which she was found required one to open the lid and climb in with the use of a ladder. No ladder was found at the scene, and the heavy lid would be difficult to replace correctly while inside the tank.

The hotel rebranded itself from Cecil Hotel to Stay on Main in an attempt to distance itself from a notorious reputation of violence and one of the inspirations behind the Hotel Cortez from American Horror Story: Hotel. Such instances include: serial rapist/killer Richard Ramirez allegedly taking up residence in the hotel; Elizabeth Short (aka the Black Dahlia) reportedly being seen drinking at the Cecil’s bar days before her murder; and numerous suicides in the ’30s through ’50s, so plentiful the hotel was nicknamed The Suicide by local residents in the 1960s.

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