Death of Elisa Lam

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 (藍可兒; April 30, 1991 – February 2013), a Canadian student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. 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.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 with most of her clothes and personal effects floating in the water near her. 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. 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. 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.


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