Elisa Lam’s mysterious death has been haunting the Internet since 2013. Though the case is officially solved, Internet sleuths continue to theorize about its eerie details. Officially, Elisa Lam had a manic episode that led to an accidental drowning, but no explanation can stop you from getting chills when you read about her death at night.
Lam was a 21-year-old student traveling from Canada who went missing and was eventually found dead in the roof-top water tank of a Los Angeles budget hotel. If you aren't familiar with the mysteries and conspiracy theories surrounding the case, this Reddit thread is a comprehensive look. These theories are bolstered by the dozens of eerie details and coincidences involving Lam's death - take a look at just a few of the creepy coincidences that make you question between Elisa Lam's death is a solved case after all.
Elisa Lam’s death is known for the chilling elevator footage released by police. In the video, Lam appears at times frantic and at other times playful. She makes strange motions with her hands, as if swimming or petting a dog. It’s also noteworthy that the footage released has been edited as well as sped up.
Perhaps the footage was edited to protect the privacy of an innocent person who walked by, or perhaps just because nothing happened in it, but some theorists claim it suggests a cover-up.
Lam's was not the first or even most notorious death associated with the Cecil Hotel. In 1985, it was the temporary residence for serial killer Richard Ramirez, known as the Nightstalker. In 1991, Jack Unterweger, an Australian serial killer, called the Cecil Hotel home. In fact, since it was built in 1927, the hotel has witnessed over a dozen murders and suicides. The Black Dahlia (Elizabeth Short) was said to have stayed at the Cecil Hotel as well, though LA crime historian Kim Cooper disputes this claim.
The hotel may be cursed, but a simpler but nonetheless sinister reason for the incredible number of deaths associated with the Cecil Hotel is its location along Skid Row, a notoriously poor part of Los Angeles populated by homeless people and transients. Since Lam's death, the Cecil Hotel has attempted to re-brand itself, changing its name to "Stay on Main" though a portion of it remains a residential hotel for the otherwise homeless. In 2016, the city of Los Angeles considered making it a historical monument.
On February 19, 2013, hotel employees discovered Elisa Lam's waterlogged body where it had been floating nearly three weeks in one of the hotel’s water tanks. Disturbingly, the hotel was investigating numerous complaints from hotel residents about poor water pressure and strange, foul water coming out of their faucets. Many people claim Lam was discovered naked and that her clothes had gone missing, but the police actually did discover her clothes in the bottom drain of the water tank.
Some theorists use this fact as evidence of foul play, but Lam could have removed her clothes while treading the water inside.
Katie Orphan, owner of downtown Los Angeles' The Last Bookstore, said Lam was, “outgoing, very lively, very friendly” when she came into her store on the day of her disappearance. Lam was purchasing gifts for her family. However, the same day Elisa was moved out of the hotel’s dormitory-style housing into a single room because, according to hotel manager Amy Price, her roommates complained of "odd behavior."
If Lam was going through a manic episode, both of these accounts make sense. Though she was taking four medications to manage bipolar disorder and traces of all four were found in her system during her autopsy, it is difficult to tell whether or not they were in sufficient quantities due to the deterioration of her body.