Death of Elisa Lam

Elisa Lam
藍可兒
Lam, smiling, wearing a red scarf and black coat
BornApril 30, 1991[1]
DisappearedJanuary 31, 2013 (aged 21)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Diedc. February 2, 2013(2013-02-02) (aged 21)
Cause of deathAccidental drowning
Body discoveredFebruary 19, 2013
Stay on Main, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationStudent
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese藍可兒
Simplified Chinese蓝可儿
Hanyu PinyinLán Kě'ér
Yale RomanizationLàahm Hó-yìh
JyutpingLaam4 Ho2ji4

On February 19, 2013, a body was recovered from a water tank atop the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. It was later identified as that of Elisa Lam, also known by her Cantonese name, Lam Ho Yi (; April 30, 1991[1] – February 2013), a Canadian student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.[2] She had been staying at the hotel when she was reported missing at the beginning of the month. A maintenance worker discovered the body when investigating guest complaints of problems with the water supply and pressure.

Her disappearance had been widely reported; interest had increased five days prior to the discovery of her body when the Los Angeles Police Department released a video of the last time she was known to have been seen, on the day of her disappearance, by an elevator security camera in the Cecil Hotel. In the footage, Lam is seen exiting and re-entering the elevator, talking and gesturing in the hallway outside, and sometimes seeming to hide within the elevator. The video went viral on the internet, with many viewers reporting that they found it unsettling. Explanations ranged from claims of paranormal involvement to bipolar disorder, for which Lam took medication. It has also been argued that the video was altered prior to release.[3]

The circumstances of Lam's death, once she was found, also raised questions, especially in light of the hotel's history in relation to other notable deaths and murders. Her body was naked[4] with most of her clothes and personal effects floating in the water near her.[4] It took the Los Angeles County Coroner's office four months, after repeated delays, to release the autopsy report, which reports no evidence of physical trauma and states that the manner of death was accidental.[5] Guests at the Cecil, now re-branded as Stay on Main, sued the hotel over the incident and Lam's parents filed a separate suit later that year; the latter was dismissed in 2015. Some of the early Internet interest noted what were considered to be unusual similarities between Lam's death and the 2002 horror film Dark Water.[2] The case has since been referenced in international popular culture. It was the subject of Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, a four-part 2021 Netflix docuseries.

  1. ^ a b "Community Alert" (Press release). Los Angeles Police Department. February 6, 2013. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Nickels, Jesse (May 28, 2014). "Elisa Lam: The College Girl Whose Hotel Death is So Mysterious It Inspired a Horror Movie". College Times. Archived from the original on February 19, 2015. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  3. ^ van der Merwe, Marelise (December 12, 2014). "The Elisa Lam mystery: Still no answers". Daily Maverick. Archived from the original on September 7, 2018. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Autopsy Report 2013-01364". Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner. June 18, 2013. p. 3. Archived from the original on September 22, 2020. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  5. ^ "Autopsy Report 2013-01364". Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner. June 18, 2013. p. 15. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved January 1, 2021.

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