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Convincing Theories That Might Explain What Happened To Elisa Lam

Updated June 11, 2021 1.2m views12 items

The death of Elisa Lam continues to mystify everyone who hears the circumstances surrounding the tragedy. The 21-year-old student was traveling the West Coast alone and staying at the infamous Cecil Hotel when she went missing in 2013. The initial search of the hotel turned up nothing except elevator footage of Lam behaving erratically and seemingly speaking to someone off-screen.

About three weeks later, hotel guests began to complain of discolored and foul-tasting water and low water pressure. An inspection of the rooftop water tank led to the discovery of Elisa Lam’s body. How she could have gotten into the water tank without setting off the alarm or how she lifted the heavy lid and sealed herself inside has been a lingering question for many, especially considering the state she appeared to be in in the security camera footage. Her death was ruled an accidental drowning, but the evidence is inconclusive, leaving many still asking, "What happened to Elisa Lam?"

For every logical explanation one proposes, another unsolvable issue arises to contradict it. While there are websites and forum threads dedicated to Elisa Lam theories, no one answer has proven itself entirely probable, and no explanation ties up all the loose ends. This list contains some of the most widespread Elisa Lam explanations, spine-chilling scenarios, and downright crazy theories.

  • Her Death Was A Sacrifice

    The Cecil Hotel seems to have a black cloud hanging over it, some otherworldly curse seeping through its halls. If ever a place could have "bad juju"’ the Cecil is it. Hotels are high-traffic areas, so there are sure to be some less-than-savory characters and associated tragedies from time to time, but the Cecil goes way beyond the norm. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the Cecil was known as a place to commit suicide - and murder.

    Whatever darkness lurks in the Cecil Hotel has attracted two serial killers. Richard Ramirez (AKA the Nightstalker) was living at the hotel in 1985. Jack Unterweger was staying at the Cecil in 1991 when he murdered three prostitutes, strangling them with their own bras. Were deeply troubled people drawn to the hotel's energy? Or did its energy drive people to do things they normally wouldn’t?

  • The Hotel’s Ghosts Were Tormenting Her

    Long before Elisa Lam walked the halls of the Cecil, there were tragic deaths and talk of ghosts associated with the property. Since its grand opening in the 1920s, there have been numerous suicides, murders, and bizarre accidental deaths - like in 1962, when Pauline Otton jumped from the ninth floor and landed on a pedestrian walking on the street below, killing them both instantly. Some even claim the Cecil Hotel was the last place the Black Dahlia was seen alive.

    Many different ghost stories about Lam’s death have made the rounds. Some say Lam was being tormented by an evil spirit in the elevator, while others say she was actually possessed by a spirit that forced her to commit suicide.

  • She Traveled To Another Dimension

    The Korean elevator game requires a building at least 10 stories high and one player to enter an elevator alone and press a series of buttons in order to open a gateway to a parallel dimension. This new dimension looks much the same except it’s dark, electronic devices don’t work, and once the elevator doors reopen, you'll see nothing outside the windows but a red cross. If anything seems “off,” you are not supposed to leave the elevator.

    There is also a warning about a woman from "the Otherworld" who may step into the elevator and ask you where you’re going. You are not supposed to speak to or even look at her. It certainly seems as though Lam was speaking to someone, and some have speculated that she was playing this game before her death and it went horribly wrong.

  • The Aleister Crowley connection is more of series of strange coincidences - unless you believe in interdimensional travel, as Crowley did. The notorious occultist claimed to have met a being, described as similar to alien "greys," named Lam. Yes, Lam. Furthermore, it’s believed that after this interaction, Crowley used a magic ritual to open a portal of entry between Lam’s dimension and ours. Which is of course of interest to those who think that’s exactly what Lam was doing on the elevator. 

    Crowley also wrote a poem while staying at the Cecil Hotel (in London) called "Jephtha." In it, Jephtha sacrifices his daughter, Seila. Not only does Seila sound close to Cecil, but it is also an anagram of... ELISA!

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