Elisa Lam was a 21-year-old student who maybe had a manic episode that led to an “accidental” drowning. She was traveling from Canada when she went missing and the conspiracy theories take off from there. The case of Elisa’s death is full of coincidences and weird details that do not seem to fit. People who do not believe that the case was solved correctly. The case also inspired several different reenactments and even a few tv show storylines, giving further credence to the mysteriousness of Elisa’s death.
Elisa Lam, a Canadian student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, was reported missing at the beginning of February 2013. Her disappearance was reported on all aspects of media and had begun to pick up steam around the middle of February when the security footage of Lam on an elevator was released to the media. In the security footage, Lam is seen stepping off the elevator, getting back on and speaking with someone outside in the hallway. She is also seen apparently hiding in the elevator, which also seems to be malfunctioning.
The Cecil. The fact that Elisa’s body was found at the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles did not help the conspiracies die down. The Cecil hotel has been the site of several murders and notable deaths in years prior. By the 1960’s so many people had committed suicide or been murdered at the Cecil that it was being called “The Suicide” in lieu of its proper name.
Five days after the security footage was released, on February 19th, 2013, Elisa’s body was discovered inside the water tank on top of the Cecil Hotel in Downtown LA. The hotel guests began to complain about the water supply. When they went to investigate they found Elisa’s body in the water tank on the roof. She was naked and her clothes were tossed in with her.
The residents of The Cecil began to complain about a slew of issues with their water. According to the residents and guests, the water pressure was very poor, and the water was discolored and foul smelling as it ran from the taps. Though the pipes were also suspected at one point, the tank was the problem, and more specifically, the body, clothes and personal effects in it.
The Tanks. The water tank was located on the roof and was supposed to be inaccessible. The theory that Elisa Lam was murdered is furthered even more by the location of the water tank she was found in. The water tanks of the Cecil are on the roof and are supposed to only be accessible to staff. Those sticking to the suicide scenario are saying that the fire escape makes the roof accessible (as shown by a YouTuber who decided to point this out while at the Cecil Hotel). Another suicide theory is that the roof access door was accidentally left ajar or somehow propped open.
Manic Behavior in the Video. In the video, those who believe she had a mental break point out the inconsistent and odd behavior exhibited by Elisa on the security footage. She is seen miming swimming, leading people to point out that she intended to go to the roof, remove her clothes and jump into the water tank. That theory relies on her knowing she would have access to the roof and the tanks which is not really feasible for someone in a manic state.
Elisa’s Tumblr posts were confusing for many around the time of her death because of the consistency. Her blog continued posting after she died, which is easily attributed to the queue feature that allows for future posts to be scheduled. The relatability of many of her posts triggered a lot of sorrow for her death.
The coroner’s pathologists are also unclear, unfortunately on the reports, as to the cause of death. The boxes checked for cause of death were adjusted later on. A note dated “6/18/13” calls the original classification an error, which is causing theorists to throw accusations of foul play.
Elisa Lam’s death was ruled as accidental. In 2015 her parents attempted to sue the hotel. The wrongful death suit claimed that the hotel should cover the costs of her burial and unspecified damages. The case was dismissed after the hotel argued that there was no feasible way anyone could have known she would enter the tanks and since no one has ever been able to prove how she did, they cannot be held liable.