At the start of 2013, one of the most shocking stories of the year unraveled after the body of college student Elisa Lam was found floating in one of the water tanks on the roof of the Cecil Hotel in California, a hotel famous for its dark history.
If you don’t know Elisa’s tragic and bizarre story, here’s what you need to know.
The year she mysteriously died, Elisa Lam was a bright 21-year-old Canadian student who attended the University of British Columbia. At the time, Elisa was traveling the U.S. and exploring the California coast.
In late January, Elisa checked in to the Stay on Main hotel, which had previously been converted from the Cecil Hotel and has had its fair share of bizarre guest deaths and ghost stories. Elisa allegedly stayed in a room with roommates at first, but due to strange behavior on her part, she was eventually moved into a single room.
The last anyone had seen Elisa was on January 31st, 2013, the same day she also stopped making her daily calls to her parents, which she had been doing every day prior. The staff at the hotel noticed Elisa didn’t check out of her room on time, and her parents grew more concerned when they couldn’t get a hold of her.
Elisa’s parents contacted the Los Angeles Police Department to report her missing and flew to California to search for her. The police searched the hotel with dogs but found no sign of Elisa.
By the time February rolled around, guests at the hotel began noticing issues with the water. The water pressure was never consistent; sometimes, it would run black for a while before returning to clear. Guests who drank tap water at the hotel reported an awful, strange taste.
On February 13th, police released elevator security footage from the hotel on January 31st, which showed Elisa exhibiting some strange behavior. She made unusual gestures and looked like she was talking to someone off-camera. Elisa jumped in and out of the elevator and eventually walked away, disappearing from view. It ended up being the only footage of her last known sighting.
Complaints about the hotel’s water supply continued as the days progressed, so on February 19th, a hotel maintenance worker went to the roof of the Cecil Hotel and opened one of the 1,000-gallon water tanks. Inside, he shockingly found Elisa’s lifeless body floating in it. Her clothes were in the tank with her, but she was undressed.