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.
The Australian serial killer, Jack Unterweger was a resident for a while in 1991. In 1985 the Nightstalker, serial killer Richard Ramirez also lived at The Cecil. The hotel is widely considered to be haunted and there is honestly no surprise there. Elisa Lam’s death isn’t even the most well-known death at the Cecil. The hotel is located on Skid Row.
The Cecil was built in 1924, by hotelier William Banks Hanner. It was supposed to be a destination hotel for international businessmen and social elite. Hanner spared no expense on the Art Deco style design, eventually spending over $1 million on a marble lobby, stained-glass windows, imported palm trees and an alabaster statuary.
However, just two years after the Cecil Hotel opened, the world was thrown into the Great Depression. The area surrounding the Cecil Hotel soon fell into disrepair, becoming an area known as Skid Row. The once beautiful hotel soon gained a reputation as a meeting place for junkies, runaways, and criminals.
During the ’50s and ’60s, dozens of people committed suicide at the Cecil. It was known as a suicide hotspot. Among those that committed suicide were Pauline Otton, 27, who jumped out of a ninth-floor window after an argument with her husband.
In 1964, the Cecil was the site of another crime scene. The “Pigeon Woman” Goldie Osgood was found stabbed and strangled in her room. She had enjoyed feeding birds outside the hotel.
Between 1984-1985, the hotel was home to Richard “Night Stalker” Ramirez, a serial killer who terrorized Los Angeles. The Night Stalker stayed on the Cecil’s top floor for $14 per night. He was convicted of 13 murders, and sentenced to death. He reacted by saying “big deal.”
In 1991, Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger, known as the “Vienna Strangler,” also stayed at the Cecil for five weeks. He had been on parol in Austria for similar murders, and had moved to LA to (ironically) become a crime writer. While he stayed there, Unterweger killed three prostitutes that he would sneak into his room through the fire escape.
In 2013, a body was found floating in a water tank on the roof of the hotel after guests found the water coming from the tap was black. It was Canadian tourist Elisa Lam. Residents had been using the water Lam’s body was decomposing in for 19 days. The last footage of Lam was taken by a security camera. She exits an elevator and gestures to something outside before vanishing. It’s still a mystery how she ended up in the water tank.
Another noted guest was Elizabeth Short, who came to be known as the Black Dahlia. She reportedly stayed at the hotel just before her infamous, and gruesome murder. On top of the murderous clientele, the hotel also was the site of more than a few unexplained deaths.
The first mysterious death occurred on November 19, 1931, when a nationwide manhunt came to a screeching halt after the man in question was found dead in his hotel room. It later came out that he died after taking poison capsules. His body had been in his room for over a week when it was found.
In 1944, thirteen years and six deaths later, a 19-year-old woman threw her newborn baby out the window, claiming she didn’t know she was pregnant and thought the baby had been stillborn. Three deaths later, in 1964, a woman was found stabbed and strangled in her room, which showed signs of being ransacked. No one was ever convicted of the crime.
Though the last body was found at the hotel in 2015 — a man who reportedly committed suicide — the ghost stories and rumors still swirl. The hotel even served as the all-too-true inspiration for a recent season of American Horror Story.
The hotel has since been rebranded as the “Stay on Main” hotel. Though it still bears the original Hotel Cecil sign on its facade, and the original, and somewhat creepy, interior.