Elisa Lam was a 21-year-old Canadian college student who went to Los Angeles for a solo adventure. On a budget, Lam stayed at the Cecil Hotel which known or unknown to her has a grim history violent deaths. Initially Lam was in a shared room with another hotel guest but after the guest complained that Lam was acting strangely, she was moved to a private room. The hotel is also adjacent to Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood which is where thousands of unhoused people live.
While on her trip, Lam was updating her social media with photos and thoughts from her travels. In the past, she had used social media to post pictures of celebs and document her struggles with mental illness. She was in daily contact with her parents while traveling.
The owner of a bookstore near the Cecil hotel remembered Elisa and described her as happy. The owner said she bought books and was excited to see her friends and family again after she returned home.
Lam was reported missing when she didn’t contact her parents or check out of her hotel room. There was immediate interest from her friends and family in finding her, but that interest surged when the video of her strange behavior on the hotel’s elevator was released by LAPD:
Five days later, her nude body was found in the water tank on the hotel’s roof. Hotel guests who had been drinking water from the tank sued the hotel. Elisa Lam’s autopsy concluded that the cause of death was “accidental drowning”.
Theories about Elisa Lam’s death
1. A random predator targeted Elisa Lam, either because she was a young woman traveling along, because she was especially vulnerable having gone off her medication, or both.
2. Elisa stopped taking her bipolar medication and her strange behavior up to and including her death in the hotel’s water tank was an accidental illness-related death, with no foul play.
3. Elisa met someone in Los Angeles either at the hotel or somewhere else who is responsible for her death. Her strange behavior in the elevator video is explained by her hiding from someone.
Next month, Netflix will release a docuseries on the case. Here’s the trailer
The series will be available on Netflix on Feb 10, 2021.