‘Serial Killer’ Hotel: Exploring the Disappearance of Elisa Lam

5 mins read

A 21-year-old woman from Vancouver disappeared in January 2013 while she was on Holiday in Los Angeles, making headlines worldwide for her mysterious case as online streaming platform Netflix is scheduled to release a documentary on February 10.

Who Is Elisa Lam?

Elisa Lam was a Canadian citizen who was studying at the University of British Columbia when she went missing on January 31, 2013. Days later, she was found dead on a water tank on the roof of the Cecil Hotel.

Lam’s disappearance had become widely broadcasted when the Los Angeles Police Department released a surveillance video of her acting bizarrely in the elevator of the hotel five days after she went missing. 

The woman’s death circumstances were mysterious, and for the past decade, the case remained unsolved, and it is one of the most viral crime stories worldwide.

What Happened To Elisa Lam?

After her disappearance in 2013, Lam’s family got worried when the last they heard from her was on January 31, 2013. Authorities began searching for the woman in February of the same year and later found the mysterious video before Lam disappeared. The victim was acting strangely inside an elevator of the Cecil Hotel before never being seen again until her death.

In the video, Lam was seen entering the elevator and kept pressing multiple floor buttons while she seemed to be hiding from someone, pushing herself against the wall. However, the elevator didn’t seem to move, and in the next moments, Lam was seen coming out of the doors and possibly signaling to someone in the hotel’s corridor. Again, she entered the elevator, only to come out when it did not respond.

The Cecil Hotel called the police department on February 19 for a “confined space rescue” from their water tank at the building’s rooftop after guests reported earlier that day that the water pressure in their taps and showers was low. However, the rescue operation turned into a retrieval mission as they found what seemed to be the body of a young Asian female inside the tank.

Theories on Lam’s Disappearance

The questions about the mysterious 2013 death of Canadian Elisa Lam at the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles (now known as the Stay on Main hotel) have resurfaced after a TikTok video had nearly six million views. Data from Google Trends indicated that several opinions on the issue have grown.

Within two days after it was released, the video from user @saraa.aa_ with the caption “A death that still doesn’t sit right with me” has garnered more than six million views and nearly 1.1 million shares. With the song “Somebody That I Used To Know” as background music, the video showed the famous elevator scene associated with Lam’s death in the water tank.

“I REFUSE to believe she got in those tanks by herself. There’s NO way. She def saw something she wasn’t supposed to. It looked like she was hiding,” a comment on the video that reached 90,000 likes said.

In other recent TikTok posts, @davedisci’s uploaded a video that got over 44,600 likes by examining Elisa’s death. Another, shared by @qtchalamet on December 3, has amassed more than 2,500 likes. Other videos, some of which date to over a year ago, also talk about the death of Lam.

Netflix Documentary

A four-episode Netflix series of the Canadian student Elisa Lam’s disappearance and death in Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, California, will be aired next month, as revealed by Joe Berlinger, the executive producer and director of the docuseries. The Netflix docuseries is titled “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel.”

The series aims to analyze what happened during the 21-year-old Canadian student’s stay at the hotel. Several individuals, including prosecutors, hotel staff, and visitors, were interviewed and asked to give their involvement with the incident.

The docuseries will dive into the Cecil Hotel’s dark past, a rest stop for many well-known serial killers, including “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez.

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.