Their Daughter Checked Into a Hotel of Death, Then Her Last Seen Heart-Wrenching Video in an Elevator Went Viral on The Internet

The tragic case of Elisa Lam

Elisa Lam — image from 17alpha

Elisa checked into a hotel popularly nicknamed the hotel of death. Then she vanished a few days later.

So the police decided to post Elisa’s last seen moments from an elevator surveillance video on the internet.

The video soon went viral.

In the video;

Elisa entered an elevator. She pressed the floor buttons and waited for a while. Then she slowly approached the elevator’s door frame.

She quickly stuck her head out in the hallway and glanced from side to side in a hurried manner. Then Elisa pulled back into the elevator.

She pinned herself against the wall and then into the corner.

Then Elisa pressed more buttons in the elevator.

Then she left the elevator.

It appeared as if communicating either orally or with her hands to someone in the hallway.

Then she disappeared from view.

Elisa Was Born in Vancouver

Elisa Lam was born to David and Yinna Lam in Vancouver, Canada. Her parents were immigrants from Hong Kong.

David and Yinna moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Then they had their daughters.

Meanwhile, David and Yinna opened an Asian food restaurant in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Elisa grew into a quiet girl.

But she was also bright, thoughtful, and imaginative. She loved writing and fashion.

Elisa Battled With Bipolar Disorder

Elisa Lam, middle, posed with her sister and mother — image from Cold Case Detective

Sadly, Elisa was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression when she was a teenager.

She had a long list of prescription medications that she was supposed to take.

So, Elisa started a blog, Ether Fields, on Blogspot. And she used her blog as an outlet to vent and express her frustrations.

Elisa also used the platform to showcase her love for fashion.

Elisa later abandoned her first blog. She had started another on Tumblr called Nouvelle Nouveau.

She mainly posted fashion-related posts on it. Meanwhile, she also shared thousands of images and pieces of writing on her blog.

Amongst these images, some were dark and brooding, hinting at a more personal sadness and inner conflict.

But despite everything, Elisa was a human being, not a diagnosis.

She was a smart girl and a student at the University of British Columbia with a bright future.

Elisa Traveled to Los Angeles

Elisa made her way to Los Angeles on January 26th, 2013.

She checked into the Cecil Hotel two days later.

Elisa initially shared a room with a few roommates. But she was soon moved to her own room due to her odd behavior towards her roommates.

Then Elisa purchased a book at a local bookstore on January 31st. She also told the clerk that she planned to check out the Cecil Hotel that day.

She appeared very lively and friendly.

But Elisa’s parents couldn’t get a hold of her that night.

So they reported Elisa missing to the police. The police immediately began searching for Elisa.

Elisa hadn’t checked out of the Cecil Hotel yet.

And she wasn’t in her hotel room either. Her room was void of any suspicious items or signs of disturbances.

So the police released an official online statement regarding Elisa’s disappearance. They urged anyone who had useful information to come forward.

The Police Released a Surveillance Video

The police then released Elisa’s last seen elevator surveillance video to the public.

That was the only piece of evidence they had.

In the video;

Elisa entered an elevator on the northern corridor of the Cecil Hotel for the first time since her check-in. She pressed the floor buttons and waited for a while. Then she slowly approached the elevator’s door frame.

She quickly stuck her head out in the hallway and glanced from side to side in a hurried manner. Then Elisa pulled back into the elevator.

She pinned herself against the wall. And then she retreats into the corner as if avoiding being seen by someone from outside. Elisa then went back to the door frame once more.

She cautiously stuck her head into the open. Then she made a series of random movements before pressing more buttons. All that after coming from outside the elevator for the final time.

Elisa then left the elevator. It appeared as if she was communicating either orally or with her hands to someone. Then she disappeared from view.

Elisa’s Search Soon Came to an End

Elisa’s search soon came to an end.

A hotel worker found Elisa’s naked body in a water tank at the top of the Cecil Hotel on February 19th.

That was after multiple guests complained about the weak water pressure. The water also had a strange smell.

So an employee went up to the rooftop water systems to check.

That’s when he discovered Elisa’s body.

Elisa’s body was found naked. Her clothes were also found in the water tank covered in a sandy particulate, along with her keys and watch.

The police were called.

The water tanks became a crime scene.

Theories and Conspiracies Surrounding Elisa’s Death

Elisa’s viral surveillance video conjured up a lot of conspiracies on the internet.

Some stated that Elisa was either possessed by spiritual forces, encountered paranormal subjects or was contacted by interdimensional beings.

That was because Cecil Hotel had a history of murders and suicides.

For instance, serial killer Richard Ramirez stayed in one of the rooms of the Cecil Hotel amid a killing spree that ended in the deaths of thirteen women.

An Austrian serial murderer, Jack Unterweger, also stayed at the Cecil Hotel before killing three sex workers.

Others suggested that someone was following Elisa. She was then murdered and placed in the water tank.

But there were zero bruises or signs of bodily harm on Elisa’s body.

The surveillance video also captured no other person in or around the elevator.

So the police ruled out an assault and foul play.

All of Elisa’s belongings were accounted for, ruling out robbery or attempted robbery.

What Happened to Elisa

It was concluded that Elisa suffered a manic episode due to her struggles with bipolar disorder.

The episode led to hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, etc.

The Cecil Hotel had four different access points to the roof, three of which had no alarms.

So Elisa got to the roof via one of these points.

She either opened the water tank lid. Or it was already opened. Then she jumped inside.

The Los Angeles County Coroner’s office stated that Elisa’s death was ruled out as accidental due to the consequence of drowning.

Bipolar disorder was one of the conditions that contributed, but it was not related to the immediate cause of death.

The Aftermath

Elisa was buried in a cemetery in Burnaby.

The people from Burnaby showed their support by placing flowers and condolence messages outside Elisa’s parents’ restaurant.

Elisa’s parents later filed a death suit against the Cecil Hotel.

They believed that the hotel was careless in securing the water tank in which Elisa drowned.

But their suit was dismissed by the judge.

He stated;

“The very nature of the water tank made it unreasonable for Elisa to assume that she was allowed to climb it and open the lid.”

Elisa’s parents have kept a low profile since.

Sources:, Cold Case Detective, Anna solves