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ELISA LAM: The ongoing mystery of her death - 2013

Discussion in 'Cold Cases' started by Kimster, Jul 12, 2015.

  1. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member


    Elisa Lama, a 21-year-old Canadian student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, was recovered from a water tank atop the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles on February 19, 2013. She had been reported missing at the beginning of the month. Maintenance workers at the hotel discovered the body when investigating guest complaints of problems with the water supply.


    Her mysterious death still draws speculation from many.

    Are you familiar with her case? Do you agree with the coroner's office that she died of an accidental drowning due to her issues with bi-polar disorder?

    What do you think really happened to Elisa?
  2. spike

    spike Bronze Member

    I remember this case. I do not think this was a suicide or accidental drowning.
    Are there any unusual "clues" to another scenario?
    MULDER, DaisyChains and GarAndMo49 like this.
  3. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    I think the video of Elisa in that elevator will stick in my mind forever.. creepy!

    There's not many cases where I'm left feeling 100% clueless about what may have happened. This is one them. There's just too many questions, for me to say one way or the other, so far. I cannot count out suicide, but then - even if she was in the grip of a bipolar episode, doesn't mean she wasn't lured on to the roof and then killed.
    MULDER, DaisyChains, Dreah and 3 others like this.
  4. Julie

    Julie New Member

    MULDER, spike and DaisyChains like this.
  5. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    :hithere:Hi @Julie!!! :welcome:

    I feel the same way you do! I just don't know that a bipolar episode could cause such a suicide? And can anyone ever know for sure???
    MULDER, spike, DaisyChains and 2 others like this.
  6. DaisyChains

    DaisyChains Bronze Member

    I was one of the people who obtained her autopsy report and i still have it in my email filed away.

    I am pretty confident her death was due to accident with the contributing factor of mental illness. for the record I think it is VERY irresponsible to prescribe someone like her aderrall, especially with an antipsychotic. I'll need to go back in the report and see if the Adderall was prescribed or was a "loose" pill.

    In her autopsy report, I noticed many pills including antipsychotics. Her sister was the source for confirming her Bipolar disorder which concerned me as you would think they would call her psychiatrist to confirm that info - but maybe it was doc patient confidentiality that kept that from happening. She had pictures from rooftops she had taken before so we know that was something in the realm of her interest and capability.

    I will attach the autopsy info here:

    Attached Files:

    Kimster and spike like this.
  7. DaisyChains

    DaisyChains Bronze Member

    "In new court documents, the Cecil Hotel employee who found the body of Elisa Lam in a water tank on the hotel's roof in 2013 discussed how he ended up investigating the water tank, and what it would take for someone to get into the tank by themselves.

    Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old tourist from Vancouver, was traveling down the West Coast in late 2013 via train and bus, checking into the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on January 26. She went missing on January 31, and her family reported her as such shortly thereafter. Her body was found on February 19 in one of the hotel's water tanks after guests started complaining about low water pressure and a strange taste and smell to the tap water. It was unclear how Lam had gotten into the tank, and a surveillance video surfaced that showed Lam making bizarre hand gestures in the elevator the night she disappeared. Ultimately, authorities ruled her death an accidental drowning, saying that bipolar disorder contributed to her behavior and death that night. The details of how Lam got into the tank are not entirely understood, something lawyers for the hotel are now arguing as they push to dismiss a wrongful death suit filed against the hotel by Lam's parents.

    In court documents, Santiago Lopez said he had begun working at the Cecil Hotel in 2010 as a maintenance employee, City News Service reports. He said that he only knew who Elisa Lam was because police had begun searching for her after her family reported her missing, and that he aided officers by opening the doors of various rooms in the hotel as they conducted their investigation. He was also the one who would eventually find Lam's body in one of the four 1,000-gallon water tanks on the hotel's roof. Guests were complaining about the low water pressure, so Lopez said he took the elevator to the 15th floor and took a staircase up to the roof. He had to first turn off the rooftop alarm, then had to climb up onto the platform where the four tanks sat. Then, he had to climb another ladder to get to the top of the main tank.

    "I noticed the hatch to the main water tank was open and looked inside and saw an Asian woman lying face-up in the water approximately twelve inches from the top of the tank," he said.

    Police had checked the roof during their investigation, but did not think to look in the tanks. Lopez said that he didn't notice anything wrong with the alarm on the door to the roof that day, nor had he heard it go off at any point during Lam's stay.

    He said that to the best of his knowledge, no other hotel guests have ever been able to access the water tanks.

    Pedro Tovar, the Cecil's chief engineer, noted that there are four ways to get onto the roof. Three fire escapes which you can get to via interior doors, and one staircase from the 14th floor. An alarm will sound if someone attempts to open the door to the roof if it is not deactivated first, something that typically only hotel employees would be able to do. If the alarm sounds, it is audible to the front desk, as well as the 14th and 15th floors.

    Assuming one could get onto the roof undetected, Tovar said that you would first have to climb up to the platform the tanks sit on, then squeeze between them and other plumbing equipment. There, you'd find another ladder, which you could use to climb onto one of the four cisterns. Each has a heavy, metal lid, which you'd need to be able to open before you could get inside.

    The four tanks on the roof of the Cecil Hotel, since rebranded Stay on Main (Photo via Google Maps)

    David and Yinna Lam, Lam's parents, filed a wrongful death suit against the Cecil Hotel in September of 2013. The hotel's lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the suit, saying that the hotel had no reason to think that someone would reasonably be able to get into one of their water tanks. They're also arguing something that many Internet detectives fascinated with the case have been arguing since it happened: that still, no one really knows for sure how Lam ended up in the tank.

    The Lams' attorneys say that the hotel had a duty to "inspect and seek out hazards in the hotel that presented an unreasonable risk of danger to [Lam] and other hotel guests."

    The dismissal motion will be presented in court next on December 14.

    The Cecil Hotel, which was built in the 1920s and has 600 rooms, has since rebranded as Stay on Main. In addition to Lam's death, the hotel has been plagued with unfortunate occurrences for years. It was home to serial killer Richard "The Nightstalker" Ramirez at one point, as well as Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger. Because of the Cecil's dark past, the upcoming season of American Horror Story is, in part, based on the Cecil Hotel."


    Personally, I believe if someone had put her in that cistern they would have closed the hatch back.

    The alarm not going off when she accessed the roof concerns me as only employees could bypass that alarm. However, I do remember my dad (who suffered incidentally from bipolar disorder - they are resourceful folks!) tripped a hospital security door by using a coin once so he could wheel himself out to the balcony and have a cig - lol! So i believe she could have opened the door and bypassed the alarm if she knew how to. When people are manic they are capable of many things. She also could have accessed a fire escape. If she was that manic and psychotic it is not out of the realm of possibilities - but one would think that a woman scaling the side of a building in LA to the roof would have been noticed or caught on surrounding CCTV cams.

    Elisa picked up a book at a library before she went missing. The librarian noted that Elisa was "Overly Effusive" - which is characteristic of a manic individual.
    Kimster and spike like this.
  8. spike

    spike Bronze Member

    I now realize that there is no limit to what might happen to a bipolar individual.
    Where I had thought this was too difficult to believe, I sadly see how she might have killed herself.
    DaisyChains likes this.
  9. DaisyChains

    DaisyChains Bronze Member

    It's so sad what mental illness can do to people and their loved ones. Elisa's family will never hold her again in this world and it's just so not fair.

    I think also that many people claimed to have easily made it onto the roof of the hotel - even some around the same time Elisa disappeared. They had pictures they had taken from the rooftop and such to prove it.

    I believe the hotel employee is covering for the business and is being less than honest about just how secure that rooftop door was. There is litigation over it after all.
    Kimster and spike like this.
  10. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Administrator Staff Member

    Police dogs picked up Elisa Lam's scent at a window leading to a fire escape after her naked dead body was found in a water tank in 2013 - but her mysterious death at 'haunted' hotel continues to baffle investigators

    New details of Elisa Lam's mysterious death at The Cecil Hotel in 2013 have emerged, including how a police dog found a trace of her scent at a window leading onto a fire escape after her naked body was found floating in a water tank on the roof.

    On February 19 2013, the 21-year-old Canadian student was found floating naked in a water tank on the roof of The Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles after guests complained that the water in their rooms was dark and smelly.

    Police believe Lam, who was bipolar and had been staying at the hotel, had been there for two weeks by the time she was found.

    She checked into the hotel on January 26 after traveling from British Columbia, Canada, where she was studying, on her way to Santa Cruz. On January 31, Lam stopped using her phone. She was last seen in surveillance footage on February 1 behaving strangely in the hotel elevator, appearing to hide from someone or something.

    No other information about her final movements - including how she got onto the roof and into the water tank - has been confirmed.

    But in a new episode of HLN'S Real Life Nightmare, a former LAPD detective revealed that a police reveals that a sniffer dog picked up her scent at a window which led onto a fire escape in the building.

    Whether or not she was the victim of foul play remains undetermined.

    Experts have called into question how likely it is that she will have been able to not only get up to the roof but to undress herself and lift the lid on the water tank before climbing inside.

    There is however no proof that anyone besides her was on the roof when she died, and exactly how long she had been in the water beforehand is also unclear.

    In the new episode of Real Life Nightmare,

    'We're talking about a young lady who is not by any standards large, we're talking bout 120lbs, that can climb that ladder, single-handedly push that lid off, which weighs only about 20 or so lbs but which takes some effort, you have to think maybe something else was involved? Another person?' said one commentator.

    'The fact that she would have had to have taken all of these steps, really makes you wonder - was there foul play?' another asked.

    MORE: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ails-unsolved-water-tank-death-Elisa-Lam.html
    Kimster likes this.

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