What Happened to Elisa Lam?

A mysterious death. A haunting video.

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What happened to Elisa Lam? I’d read about her drowning on top of the Cecil Hotel in a water cistern. Some had speculated it was a suicide as a result of drug use. As there had just been a shootout in Orange County earlier in the week, I have to admit, her death slipped out of my mind. It was only after a few friends mentioned it to me that I read more about the suspicious circumstances surrounding her death. The cisterns where she was found weren’t easily accessible, and while they were unlocked, an alarm and a locked door would have to be passed for her to have gone upstairs.

To make the situation even stranger, the last recorded footage of her alive is viewable on YouTube. It’s from an elevator camera and is as inscrutable as the cause of her death. She enters the elevator and presses all the buttons. She peeks closely at what she’s pressed, seems confused why the door isn’t closing. Then she appears to hide alongside of the wall, moves to the corner, then peeks furtively out. She gets back in, pushes all the buttons again, confused as to why it isn’t moving. Her most inexplicable behavior happens when she starts flailing her arms, and it almost looks like she is arguing with someone or signaling something, though her finger gestures also imply an unusual state. One question that kept on coming back to me was, why wasn’t the elevator door closing? Why only after she left did it close?

Some have speculated in an almost Twin Peaksesque twist that her death was caused by the supernatural. Others say this indicates someone who worked at the hotel had to be involved. Honestly, the footage caused me shivers. Part of it was the silence, not knowing what she was doing. Another part of it was realizing these were the last known movements of this girl who was going to get killed shortly afterwards. It also occurred to me that it was possible she was extremely nervous and was hiding from someone. Speculation on the Internet has been rampant, and several Chinese on chinasmack.com (which translates Chinese reactions over the net into English) have suggested it could have been her flirtatiously playing hide-and-seek with a lover, or that she was in fear for her life as she tried to escape. One reaction perfectly captured my own:

“Fuck, I watched it for 10 seconds and was afraid to watch any more. Someone hurry and watch it and then tell me about it.”

Some of the reactions on the American side suggested that Elisa, being from mainland China, could not handle drugs and was overwhelmed by her reaction to psychedelics. For example:

“Nah. I don’t agree. I think that there are very few people born and raised in the PRC (People’s Republic of China) who can handle any sort of psychoactive drug. Jesus H. Christ, introduce a mainlander to some mild marijuana and watch him or her flip like you’ve never seen anyone do on weed. Brainwashing + drugs = bad trip, bro.”

First off, Elisa was Canadian-Chinese, and second, anyone given drugs, regardless of where they’re from, can react weirdly. (I won’t bother to comment on some of the other racist statements.) But was this really a case of drugs gone awry? One of the most chilling statements was actually made by CNN, which had a very detailed report about her death. It really struck a chord and made me think about the state of our world (italics are mine):

“Because it was an international case–and her parents and sister flew to California to find answers–the case may have gotten more attention than most of the several thousand missing person reports made in Los Angeles each year.”

Of course, the lurid details that followed–including her remains getting into the tap water and showers for the hotel guests–almost guaranteed the news a spotlight. Sensationalism sells. But even my own initial reaction to her death had me really thinking about all those others who’d vanished and my general apathy about them.

The Cecil Hotel is located near Skid Row, which is a destitute world of its own, a city full of the homeless. It’s an area you don’t want to go near, especially at night, and has a reputation for drugs, prostitution, and crime. The first time I accidentally wandered into Skid Row while driving around downtown, I was scared for my life and got out of there as quickly as I could. I wondered why Lam chose a hotel in such a sketchy neighborhood. Surely there were cheaper hotels/motels in better areas. A quick glance at the Cecil Hotel on Yelp (which is at two stars) would have blared caution.

So who was Elisa? She traveled by herself to Los Angeles, having stopped by in San Diego, planning to go to Santa Cruz as her final destination. Her Linkedin accounts state that she was going to be a student at the University of British Columbia. My heart goes out to her family. When I even think about what Elisa must have endured at the end, it has me trembling.

There have been lots of grand agendas listed in politics. A war on poverty (which would help reform Skid Row), universal health-care, immigration reform, gun control, and fiscal responsibility. What about an end to murder? Is that even on the radar, or have we just resigned ourselves to the inevitability that people will kill each other? I know that murder in this case is still just a suspicion. But will that issue ever become part of the dialogue? I realize that short of the situation from “Minority Report,” the Philip K. Dick short story in which murder is eliminated by the presence of psychics who predict the murders (followed by a Precrime Arrest), the end of murder is a pipe dream. Perhaps tackling the other issues mentioned above will result in lower murder rates.

As of this writing, Elisa’s autopsy failed to find the cause of death. So I’m left watching the video, wondering, like many others, what was going through her mind. Hopefully, we’ll find out soon what happened to Elisa Lam.

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89 Responses to What Happened to Elisa Lam?

  1. Joben says:

    The video is very haunting indeed. It’s really hard to tell whether or not she is just in utter fear, or if she’s under the influence of some sort of drug. I go to the same school as she did, and people say she was not crazy. Albeit her blog suggests she was a little depressed.
    Perhaps the most disturbing part of this case is the fact that the video footage of her was edited. Maybe the police are covering something up, or maybe it’s something bigger?
    Elisa Lam

    • Tieryas says:

      Hey Joben, thanks for reading the article and sharing your thoughts. I noticed you mentioned you went to the same school as Elisa. Did you know her at all? -peter

    • secretsy says:

      It is clear to me that this girl was trying to get off that floor and it seems that something was preventing her from doing so. If you look at the moment prior to her flairing her arms she grabs her chest with a facial expression of utter fear. It is obvious something brushed against her that she could not see… so she began to try to feel for that entity using her hands and when she realized it was intangible she became more frightened and began wrenching her hands and bending her knees to try to keep her sanity… and she walked away most likely in a state of shock.

      • educogo says:

        Tens of thousands of people go to UBC, and the chances of knowing this girl are slim. Here in Vancouver we still don’t know what happened.. And that video is extremely creepy considering the events later that evening.

        • Tieryas says:

          Hey Educogo, I hear you. Yes, still waiting word. And yes, still extremely creepy. Someone sent me a link to a Chinese tourist who video recorded a trip to the actual hotel that did shed more light on the situation.

  2. Marlon79 says:

    The Elisa Lam that we met on the internet never existed.

    • Tieryas says:

      Hey Marlon 79, that’s a good point and I’d go so far as to say that’s safe to say about almost anyone we meet on the internet. In this case, it’s unfortunate that this is the only way we’ve come to know her.

  3. Marie G. says:

    I’m glad other people are still thinking about her. I haven’t seen any updates on this investigation. Last I heard, the autopsy reports were inconclusive and the toxicology reports are pending. I hope to hear an explanation soon. This case is so puzzling.

    • Tieryas says:

      Hi Marie, yeah, I was just wondering earlier in the day if there were any updates on the case and unfortunately, there still haven’t been any. I sincerely hope for the sake of her family and friends that they find out something soon.

  4. Renee says:

    I search for new info on this case weekly (did it obsessively, daily at first…such a strange case!), and I can’t believe there’s been no updates…does anyone know if the toxicology has been released? i know when they first found her body the initital autopsy was inconclusive, but i figured toxo screens would be in by now…

    • Tieryas says:

      Renee, good question. I’ve also been searching for updates but there have been none. I’m not sure what that means but hopefully they’ll have something soon. Thanks for checking out the article!

  5. Kathy says:

    I don’t think she is on drugs. She is playing with her hair, pushing it back. That tends to indicate she was concerned about her appearance. People inebriated on drugs or alcohol tend not to care about their appearance.

    It looked to me as if she was talking to someone.

    • Tieryas says:

      hey Kathy, yeah, I know what you mean. I’ve had a lot of discussions about this and it definitely looks like she is talking to someone. Someone else pointed out that very early on, the door starts to close, but when she pushes the button, it opens back up again. And her talking could be part of her condition. It’s definitely a confusing video and I hope more light is shed on it soon. Thanks for checking out the article.

  6. libby says:

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=553476401353348&set=vb.240245389419960&type=2&theater

    I think the mirrors are big part of what Elisa is looking at in the elevator .Watch this Chinese video…whats your opinion

    • Tieryas says:

      Hey Libby, yeah, that’s a really good hypothesis. It brings chills to think about what she might have seen in the mirror (or was looking for). In terms of my opinion, I am starting to feel the more I find out, the more questions I have. (that’s why even my article was phrased as a question, heh)

    • Tieryas says:

      oh, and thanks again for sharing this. anything that helps shed more light on the case is welcome info.

  7. Tieryas says:

    Libby, wow, that’s a really interesting video. My Mandarin skills need to improve a little before I can understand it fully, but I kind of gathered what he was saying. Thanks for posting that! For those curious, I’m reposting that: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=553476401353348&set=vb.240245389419960&type=2&theater

    • libby says:

      I guess you can I’m fascinated too….I’m guessing these guy:s slipped someone some $ to get roof access …no one has mentioned the mirror s I wish I spoke Chinese they seem to comment on them

      • Tieryas says:

        I’ll try and see if I can get one of my Mandarin-speaking friends to possibly translate. thanks again Libby!

        • libby says:

          Tieryas that would be really cool,.. you know whats crazy is most adult women have encountered creepy WTF scenarios,turned and said “what the fuck’s your problem man” and escaped…poor Elisa’s worst nightmare came true pure terror :(

          • Tieryas says:

            Libby, that’s horrible to hear any woman has to endure that. I don’t even want to speculate if that’s what happened to Libby. Based on my limited Mandarin (along with some help), I wrote a brief summary of what the guy said in Mandarin and posted to my blog as it was too long just to write here: http://tieryas.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/elisa-lam-updates/
            thanks again for pointing this out to me

          • christel says:

            I definitely believe that. Too easy to explain it away by claiming she is mental. She clearly is engaging with someone, and I am inclined to believe that this person is living. Ghost cant kill but people can. Plus after three weeks under water what evidence would still be present on the body

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  9. Tieryas says:

    Sorry, I meant to say “if that’s what happened, Libby”

  10. libby says:

    thanks,wow you cant see the outside up or down buttons from inside of ,nor can you see anything on the right,I wonder if there is a corner to duck behind,push button hide,she comes out ,repeat until she confronts them,maybe counting this the 3rd time you’ve done that its not funny anymore..just guessing a scenario again
    I didnt realize he went up the fire escape to access the roof ,but I had noticed before but wasnt sure about the building or roof above the tanks,you could easily throw or push someone off and land on the tanks especially if there were two men? if one has the arms one has the legs and swing her over…was it to high to jump from? then put her in the tank? acess to a ladder?

    finally Ive realize spell check is my best friend..and my sentence

    structure is nonexistent..that Im sure of :)

    thanks again Tierryas..Im on facebook Libby Bentley..I keep asking a friend in LA if she knows any cops or firemen with gossip ..nope

    • Tieryas says:

      hi Libby, so much to speculate and so many possible scenarios. Someone on twitter contacted me and let me know that the toxicology reports will be ready next week. Let’s wait and see if they come and if they will shed more light on the case. Thanks again!

  11. David says:

    Maybe we have all been reading too deep into this story, here’s a girl of the same ethnicity and build as Elisa telling her experiences at Cecil and even mentioning a sex offender who has lived in the hotel for 26 years.

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=553476401353348&set=vb.240245389419960&type=2&theater

    (12 comments from the beginning, then she even translates o get her point across)

    After 26 years you would know your home in and out and a simple Canadian girl wouldn’t stand a chance.

    I believe elisa was drugged and abused and then disposed of, have authorities checked the other tanks?

    • Tieryas says:

      hey David, I saw that comment too and was disturbed by it. The toxicology report is supposed to come out very soon so I’m waiting to find out what it’ll reveal. I don’t know if the other tanks were checked, but I would be very surprised if they hadn’t been.

      thanks for reading and posting your thoughts

  12. njoasht says:

    How long till the toxicology report comes out I’m really curious .

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  14. Tieryas says:

    Just an fyi to everyone that Elisa Lam’s death was ruled accidental and bipolar disorder was listed as a significant condition. A very sad end to a very sad story…

  15. Karen says:

    How sad this entire story is. I simply do not believe her death was “accidental” as the report had said and if I was her mother, I wouldn’t accept that finding. To me, when she’s in the elevator initially, she’s almost acting “playfully” and childlike as if its a game of hide and seek. She “hides” waiting for the seeker and when that person doesn’t arrive, she peeks around the corner carefully so as not to give away her hiding spot. Then at one point (perhaps she hears someone and assumes its her “seeker”) she peeks around and playfully jumps out as if to say “ha ha here I am!” Only to find no one there (or the wrong person i.e. not her seeker??). I just don’t understand the gesturing and I really don’t get why the elevator doors don’t close after punching all the buttons. Was she playing hide and seek with someone and hoping they’d find her on the elevator and punching all the elevator buttons hoping to stall out the elevator so they could live out some elevator lover fantasy or was she hoping to continue the hide and seek game by making the elevator stop at each floor making it harder for her seeker to find her? It’s just all so odd. But I don’t think it’s an accident that her body ended up where it did. How can they conclude that honestly? This was not a swimming pool! This was a water tank. How do you “accidentally” end up in a water tank? Are they trying to convince her family she mistook a huge metal tank for a bathtub or swimming pool?? I mean come on! I hope her family strives to find out who killed their daughter because someone clearly did.

    • Tieryas says:

      Hi Karen, yes, a very sad story and lots of good questions. I’m hoping more information will come out… The family hasn’t said much, but perhaps they know more and are requesting privacy as they grieve. I don’t know…

  16. Simon6071 says:

    I think Elisa Lam could have been kidnapped and then drowned by a murderer who forced her head into the water in a bathtub before carrying her naked and drowned body to the roof to be dumped into a water tank. That would be able to trick the incompetent coroner and police detectives that she was drowned in the tank on the roof.

    If that is the case, a lot of water could have been splashed out of the bathtub as she struggled. That can explain why there was a report of flooding in a room on the 4th floor.

    If Elisa Lam were alive in the tank before drowning, it would be a natural instinct to tread water before she drowned and her head should have been above her feet when her body was found. However, she was found naked and up side down in the 4 ft diameter tank, which indicates she was dumped head first into the tank when she was already dead.

    Besides, the police fail to explain how the portable ladder needed to reach the top of the 10 ft tall tank which does not have its own ladder would disappear if Elisa Lam had climbed into the tank and drowned herself. The ladder would not simply disappeared. The murderer would have to remove it to avoid detection.

    I also don’t understand why the police totally ignored the fact that the water tank in which Elisa Lam’s body was found was behind a locked door with an alarm and the key was accessible to staff members of the Cecil Hotel only in coming with the “Accidental “ Drowning ruling.

    Some fools tried to defend the absurd claim of “Accidental” Drowning made by the incompetent coroner and police detectives by saying that the door to the roof could have been left open accidentally and the alarm turned off accidentally thus allowing Elisa Lam to wander to the roof. What a bunch of B.S. from those fools!

    First of all, the coroner was not supposed to rule the drowning “Accidental” by ASSUMING the door was accidentally left open and the alarm accidentally turned off. Second, even if the door was left open and the alarm turned off due to unknown reason, the coroner and police detectives still should not be so stupid as to assume that Elisa Lam would be the only one able to go through the door undetected.

    A kidnapper having murdered Elisa Lam by drowning her in a bathtub in his hotel room could also go through the same door undetected to go to the roof and dump Elisa Lam’s naked body into the tank with the help of a portable ladder to reach the top of the tank which does not have its own ladder on the side.

    The Coroner’s office and the LAPD are both incompetent in claiming Elisa Lam’s death “Accidental” Drowning . They are also foolish for failing to consider the possibility that Elisa Lam had been drowned by a murderer in a bathtub before her body was dumped into the water tank on the roof and failing to link the report of flooding on the 4th floor to the possibility of water splashing out of the bathtub due to struggling when someone was drowned by force.

    The LAPD should reopen the case as a murder case to avoid being a laughing stock with their stupid claim of “Accidental” Drowning.

  17. simon6071 says:

    When I think of the acronym LAPD while looking at the stupid claim of “Accidental” Drowning that failed to explain why the portable ladder needed to reach the top of the tank would disappear by itself if she had really drowned herself, the words Los Angels Police Dimwits light up in my mind.

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  24. ang says:

    Ok, so this might not be a popular opinion, but I believe it was an accident.

    What I believe is, that she was actually having fun, exploring. What I see in the video is a girl who goes to an elevator and decides to press all the buttons just for the heck of it. Then jumps outside like she wants to scare someone and plays hide and seek with herself. Why don’t the doors close? Well, she pressed the hold button inside the elevator and then while she was standing outside, she kept on pressing it from the outside – we can’t see her hands all the time.
    There’s a mirror in front of the elevator and she is posing, again, just having fun.
    It had to be a bit of a climb all the way up, but have you never felt the desire to climb on rooftops? I bet she was walking around the hallways and just wandering around the hotel, because she was curious and then she thought the rooftop would be exciting.
    She accessed it via the fire staircase and saw the tanks and decided to actually go swimming (January, but LA, right?), so she took her clothes off. Maybe she threw them off the roof, or they were blown away by the wind.
    It was dark and she couldn’t see properly and only when she was inside the tank did she realise, she couldn’t get out and then died a terrible death because noone would look for her there.

    Why am I thinking it was this way: I’ve done similar things in hotels and dormitories and just buildings, usually at night, not really intoxicated, maybe some beers. I was running around, driving in elevators and trying to climb onto the roof if I could. Luckily, whatever I did, I came out of it ok. A lot of people would think of me as a complete lunatic or drugged, if they saw me, but I took care that noone did.

    The only thing: the water tanks are scary as shit even in the daylight. I would not go in, only if I was with more people. But I also did some very unsafe stuff by myself, so, maybe she was just trying to prove to herself she can overcome her fears.

    Anyway, the moments inside the tank, I just can’t imagine…

    • Salmon of Doubt says:

      Someone stalked her. She pressed all the buttons so that he doesn’t know which floor she goes to. But the murderer, hidden from camera view, prevented the door from closing by pressing buttons from the opposite side. She must have heard some noise and that’s why she looked out. There’s a mirror installed left to the elevator door. She was probably hiding from view. The footage is slowed down and there are many seconds missing. Even if she was on drugs, she still wouldn’t get naked and jumped into the tank just for the fun of it.

  25. KC says:

    This is what I see.
    A young playful girl somewhat sheltered/naive is getting ready to go somewhere,lets say the bathroom (after reading reviews of the hotel,there are shared bathrooms per floor with few stalls,hers was busy).

    She doesn’t know which floor she is trying to get to (maybe she doesn’t know there is one per floor),so she presses all the buttons in hopes of finding one on at least one of the floors. It appears as though she accidentally pressed the hold door button while doing this.

    She then peeks her head out to see if someone is messing with her and holding the elevator call button. After coming inside it appears like she either saw someone out there, or hears someone approaching (perhaps someone she wasn’t sure of) and then hides in the corner. She peeks her head out to see if that person is there still as they should be nearing the elevator by now. She looks right, then left for a long while and finally steps out further to see better to the left. I think she saw someone hiding and was trying to get a better view. She then jumps somewhat startled, or jumps as a way to startle the creeper out of his/her hiding spot.

    I think at this point, the person to the left reveals themselves as a hotel employee, and tells her that the elevator is activated by a sensor, and that she should try to activate it.

    Then she gives up on that and further describes how the elevator won’t work to the person. Then frustrated she goes inside and tries to press all the buttons again (a couple times in frustration) perhaps trying to show them how it doesn’t work. Again while doing this she accidentally hits the “hold door” button. She then goes outside again to tell that person that it still isn’t working. Then she starts waving “magic hands” at the elevator in hopes it’ll work. The hand gestures aren’t that odd, think about when you are trying to get a movie to play, or a street light to turn green, these are the same hands that you throw up semi-joking that the thing will start working again.

    She then cracks her knuckles, as she increasingly becomes impatient (maybe she has to go to the bathroom really bad), or she starts getting nervous about her “companion” to the left.

    The person that she is talking to could easily be a hotel employee, thus her coming out and finally feeling comfortable talking to him/ her. A hotel employee would also know to stay out of the elevator camera’s, and how to successfully hold the elevator call button so that the elevator doesn’t depart the floor.

    They exchange enough conversation at this point, and she feels comfortable enough with them. They tell her that it must be broken and that there are stairs over to the left that they can take. Maybe she even tells him/her that she’s looking for another bathroom. The employee suggests going up the stairs to the top floor. And from there the employee hurts her and so on.

    It’s sad that they didn’t even consider investigating the employees…

  26. Jeanetta says:

    Interesting, did you all read what Tila Tequila had to say about this. I haven’t even heard anything on this case, till today.
    Tila Tequila said this was some kind of ritual or something like that.
    But this is very very weird……

    • Chris says:

      I remember this case when it happened. I too saw Tila’s comment today, did a quick Google search to see if there was anything new. I have yet to find anything that differs from what we’ve read here. Paul Walkers death is somewhat suspicious also, because they are labeling it as an accident. Both cases, just creepy.

    • ScotchAllenguarde says:

      I wouldn’t put any stock or credence whatsoever into anything Tila Fuckin’ Tequila says. I dont know what it is with the internet and “ritual murder”/”demonic possession” etc. but its really fucking stupid and annoying. I can almost guarantee you it wasn’t “monsters”. You’re an adult. Put on your adult hat and use your brain. Jesus Christ…

  27. Sheikh says:

    I don’t know all the facts or if this question has been answered already… but were her clothes ever found?? If not, wouldn’t anyone notice a completely naked person going up the stairs?

    Also, can a person get into the tank (which is at least 12 feet high) and then close the tank door behind them??? How easy/hard is that?

    I hope the cops are calling this an accident just to throw off the perp and the investigation is still on going.
    God rest the poor girls soul.

  28. amberway says:

    In any elevator I’ve been in, one has to physically hold the “hold” button down to get it to stay open for that long. I’ve noticed on some(?all) elevators though that hitting or holding the buttons on the outside before the doors close can stop it from closing. I’ve read a lot of theories, but the one that seems to make the most sense to me is that she was murdered, probably by a hotel employee, maybe someone who was being flirtatious with her. Some people think it might have been ritualistic, but I’m not sure if I believe it or not. Though it does seem to be especially strange (if it were a homicide) that her killer would choose to put her in the hotel’s water supply. I’ve seen pics and descriptions of the tank area, Imo getting yourself into one of those things alone couldn’t be an easy task,and I’ve read the door to the tank was latched from the outside..? The video footage is so haunting. Was it ritualistic, or supernatural etc? Don’t know. But it sure as hell doesn’t look “accidental”. Has anybody else seen the name Arthur Smith mentioned on other threads as a possible suspect? I read it somewhere recently and was wondering if that was speculation or if I had missed a new development in the investigation.

  29. Mr. Dog says:

    Every other camera in the hotel seems to be out of sight out of mind. Certainly one of the other cameras had to pick up something. If not directly on the elevator from a different angle, at least someone else walking down a hall way at some point. I have my own ideas about everything else, lets start there though since that is the 1st thing I have not seen questioned at all on any board concerning this.

  30. Theo says:

    I think this is just a sad murder case. The clip clearly cuts as the doors are closing, and there is a video online that clocks it at 54 seconds of missing time. That’s more than enough time for a young woman to get scooped up. Probably a security employee, or maintenance employee controlling the elevator remotely.

  31. AllAboutDough says:

    Here’s what i think happened:

    In the video, she is clearly High. Not necessarily on her own accord, someone probably drugged her. But anyone who’s ever done acid or shrooms knows that she is acting high, like on some hallucinogen. For example, she gets on the elevator and she ducks down and gets really close to the numbers in order to see them. That is what you do when you are on acid, because the world is spinning and the walls are melting and you can’t see anything clearly unless you get really close and focus… So she’s high, and she’s hiding from the person who most likely drugged her, and the elevator door won’t close because that person is standing outside, pressing the buttons so the elevator won’t close… The killer knows that there are cameras in the elevator so he won’t get in… When she gets out of the elevator and starts making those funny hand signals, she is trying to tell him to go away, or to leave her alone, but her hand signals appear strange because she is so high and confused. The killer stops pressing the buttons and lets the elevator close. Then he either snatches her or coaxes her to come along with him. This isn’t difficult to do when someone is as disoriented as she. When the elevator opens again, it is on a different floor, we know this because the walls are a different color.

    As for all the articles saying she was probably not on drugs, the police are not releasing very much info on this, so i find it hard to believe anything they say. Sometimes when a case has gone cold, they like to call it a suicide in order to give the public closure, instead of admit that there is a killer out there that they can’t catch. After all, the autopsy reports weren’t released until five months later.
    You can’t believe what the police/authorities say in this, they are being very secretive. Chances are, the hotel made some sort of deal with the police and they called it a suicide. After all, having another serial killer in this hotel (who may still be living there) would be detrimental for business. They could’ve paid the authorities off to save their reputation.
    I ALWAYs question what the police say, especially in this situation. No one can tell me that she was not high. Anyone who has done a hallucinogen can’t deny that she is high as freaking shit in the video.

    • G.M. in the US says:

      I don’t think she is high. Delusional maybe. It’s also possible that someone is following her and has frightened her and/or robbed her. Notice that she does not have her glasses, purse or cell phone. She cannot see the numbers on the floors so she bends down to look. She presses all the floors so the person, real or imagined, cannot tell which floor she gets off. When the door does not shut she looks out, searching for the person following her. She then cowers in the corner of the elevator as if preparing for someone to enter. Finally, as the door does not shut she steps into the hall and talks to the person following her (again real or imagined). She touches the fingers on her left hand as if saying, first I did this and then I did that (perhaps she is saying first you followed me to the store and then you followed me here?) and then she looks like she is pleading. Hands out palms up speaking with her hands moving up and down. (Perhaps saying, leave me alone. Please stop following me.) Seeing no one and the elevation still in the open position, she walks away.
      How she got into the water tank is a mystery. It looks to me like she would have needed a ladder. Also, I read, that the maintenance guy sent to look at the tank was puzzled that it wasn’t locked. Does that mean normally the door to the tank was locked? It would seem to me to be common sense to lock your water supply. There are many questions but few answers: Where are her cloths? Where is her purse? Where is her phone? Is there any evidence that she was robbed? What was in her hotel room?
      Again, I’m not saying she wasn’t delusional, just that it is strange. I find it hard to believe that some just dismiss the death so cavalierly when so many questions are unanswered.

  32. john says:

    See frame 2:29 mark…there seems to be another person’s shoe in the clip as she walks away from the elevator.

  33. charmainedelc says:

    She seemed to have become restless when she started pressing all the buttons as the doors would not close. Although her behaviour came across as very odd, it just seemed to me as though she was trying to activate sensors by waving her hands like that as many people had already established.It looks like she was talking to someone, the way she bent her fingers was almost as if she was using them as a check list, or hand gesture like, ‘I pressed all the buttons’ *puts one finger down*, ‘I walked in then out’ e.t.c because maybe someone had appeared and saw her doing these bizarre actions and questioned her? whoever it was could have pointed her in the direction of the roof, which is unknown to her, and could have followed her once the doors had closed. I think it was probably murder:/ intriguingly bizarre indeed. This was a great article, such a thrilling case.

  34. Rhonda says:

    hmmm… What I want to know is this: Why doesn’t she have her glasses on? If I had bad eyesight, I might have to bend over close to see the numbers on the elevator also. Granted, she could be wearing contacts, but maybe not.

  35. christine says:

    Tieryas why dont we get someone to find out what kind of elevator it is and contact them for an explanation of the door not closing . Is it an Otis ?

  36. Upset14 says:

    I don’t think she is high or doped or bipolar as the police suggested, what’s the evidence? Just because they said so? Her family denied that she had mental illness. There might be a culture bias, her hand gesture clearly suggesting that ” Why are you following me? Why are you stalking me? Please, please stop doing that, please let me go!”
    She was murdered by her stalker. God rest her soul. Hope the Sony picture place less emphasis on the supernatural side of explanation.

  37. Michael says:

    I honestly think she is sleepwalking. If you look at extreme sleepwalking cases, her erratic movements, motions that don’t make sense, her fear and seemingly dream like state mimics that of a sleepwalker. Most likely she could have sleepwalked through an open door and into the water tank. Possibly, even removing her own clothes and throwing them off the roof. Homeless people below would have snatched them up. It seems evident to me it is an extremely sad sleepwalking case.

  38. Extra points says:

    Some assumptions:
    – the victim’s clothes are disposed of / removed from scene as the offender knows the forensic implications – someone who is a professional criminal and/ or involved in criminal expertise
    – the offender knows well the operation of the hotel resulting in cutting of missing lift scenes/ where to hide behind camera
    – the offender could be one or more than one person
    – the offender could be one of hotel staff or one having cooperation from hotel staff when suitable victim becomes available
    – many months ago someone mentioned in a discussion board about witnessing the victim with signs of fear walking next to a police officer, in the vicinity. No other related information is available.
    Not to discredit spiritual chilling factors brought up but so called evil presence may facilitate the state of mind for the happenings which are however all human doings of free will.

  39. CJ says:

    Could it be at all possible that after she could not get the elevator to work properly, she decided to take the stairs, where someone followed her, killed her and put her in the water tank?

  40. Leila says:

    To the people trying to dissect body language to determine her emotions, please keep in mind that body language and facial expression are not the same cross-culturally. Yes, she was Canadian-Chinese and probably had little difference with the way we interpret body language and expression in the American culture, but these things are absolutely not the same across the board and shouldn’t be treated as such. American law enforcement are just now starting to realize that their criteria for determining a course of action based on readable body language and facial expression are not accurate for everyone.

  41. no man says:

    she was a spy. that is why she was at that hotel. that is why she was killed.

  42. angela says:

    she was acting out the dark waters japanese version on cue from someone in the hallway-a spoof or just goffing around-her acting coach tricked her into going to the roof as part of the role playing-he raped and killed her-she thought he was going to pay her for her acting demonstration-she even wore a blouse like the japanese dark water girl wore a reddish maroon one-she was playing some sort of game/role playing fantasy stuff in order to entertain or impress some guy-or girl-but they were kinky until death and killed her-it was all planned in advance-she had no clue she was fixing to get murdred and raped

  43. angela says:

    STRANGE THING IN JAPANES VERSION ELEVATOR DOOR OPENS AND WHITE WALL PATTERN SIMILAR TO ONE IN ELISA LAM VIDEO SHOWS ACROSS HALL-AND FEMALE LEAD IN DARK WATER HOLDS ON TO DOORWAY WITH BOTH HANDS IN JAPANESE VERSION TOO LIKE ELISA DOES IN ELEVATOR DOORWAY-FEMALE LEAD HELD ONTO DOORWAY IN HER APARTMENT EXACTLY SAME-YEP THIS WAS ACTING FROM SOMEONE GIVING CUES WHO WAS OBSESSED WITH THE JAPANESE VERSION AND THESE SCENE DIRECTORS LURED HER TO A ROOF TOP DEATH-SHE WAS PROBABLY FFERE SOME ACTING JOB OR MONEY FOR HER POTRAYAL OF DARK WATERS JAPANESE SCENES-MAYBE THEY FILMED THE ROOFTOP RAE/DEATH-THEY KEPT HE CLOTHES AS A TROPHY

  44. chuck says:

    occam razor suggests that she was on a combination of alcohol and psychoactive drugs. no, neither would be revealed in a blood test after 19 days. she either wandered the hotel alone or with other individuals. she ended up on the rooftop. low budget hotels have minimal attention to security risks. there are hotels all over the country where you can get fucked up and hangout in plain view and nobody would care. her clothes werent found because she intentionally took them off, and, depending on how high she was, discarded them over one of the numerous edges of the hotel in a fit of liberation. feeling immune to scrutiny she and possibly others were swimming as many drunk or high people do in every city in the world..fountains, pools where they arent staying, even tanks of water. its hard to say if others were hanging out with her but it seems likely she could have met other people there to party with. i sincerely doubt foul play, but its possible someone else knew she was in danger, got freaked out and fled since they didnt really know her. im 99.9 percent sure she was not murdered or raped nor did she commit suicide. it is clearly a drug induced episode gone wrong.

  45. Aviana says:

    I dont know about you, or if im even right, but at the end of the video, when the elevator is closing and opening it’s doors, it looks like its on different floors/levels of the hotel.. hmm.. idk. what do you think?

  46. Terry says:

    Hey I watched the video a couple times, on the last view at the 2:15ish mark when to me it looks like she is counting out points she is making on her fingers like you do in a spat, but when i looked closer it looks as if she is begging or pleading with someone-he knees bend a couple times like when kids say please can i have a cookie. To me i think she was having a disillusion of some sort and was talking to someone who wasn’t in reality there.

  47. JM says:

    That’s really fascinating. You are the first person to bring that up that I know of. At first I thought it might have been her left foot but after watching it several times it definitely looks like another person was there.

  48. DarkLordSolus says:

    You are full crap, there not a single sign of another foot, except for the two feet attached to her.

  49. Karim says:

    The scene of the elevator does not show Elisa trying to hide from somebody but trying to reduce at the most his physical interaction with the elevator because she believes rightly or wrongly that she prevents the door from closing: we experience this when an elevator is crowded and when we move back at the most of the door not to be detected by the electronic unit of the door! When we are alone the first reflex is to put itself on quotation by flattening itself against the wall rather than towards the bottom. She goes out then of the elevator because it does not work and returns fast backwards to cause the closure of doors. It does not still work Thelevator has a problem for estimate the “weight” of the people (here one!) present and when Elisa got out then the elevator normally restarted.
    The strange attitude outside of the elevator of Élisa can be due to an anxiety arisen from this incident, probably she knew the past of this hotel…
    This type of crisis can activate a strong thirst and a sensation of extreme dehydration, she went on the roof in a bout of delirium to bathe in a tank and if no alarm started it is certainly because that – this did not work and it the hotel will never want to recognize it because its responsibility would then be hired.
    The disappeared clothes? Taken by a delirium as explained higher she undresses and herclothes put in the corridor(lane) were collected or stolen by a customer who, well on, will never go to claim it because he must have fear of being accused of anything.

  50. Andy says:

    Considering the fact her body wasn’t found for weeks, it’s impossible to discount the notion she’s simply tripping out on drugs; the traces of many drugs would have left her system by then.

  51. Cody says:

    One thing about your hypothesis that I question is how did she get back to the 4th floor to be drowned when we see her on the 14th floor? It seems as though whatever caused her death has already begun on the 14th floor so the likliness that she made it back to the 4th floor seems unlikely, considering that she was already very close to the roof during the video.

    Not to say that you’re wrong because you make a lot of very plausible points. A lot of people forget about the reports of flooding on the 4th floor as well as reports of a big bang or thud that was supposedly so loud it knocked a tenant out of his bed, the night of her disappearance.

    If I remember correctly the flooding was reported on the 4th floor but the big thud was reported by a tenant living on the 13th or 14th floor.

    One theory I had was that the flood was caused by her killer when they attempted to possibly flush her belongings or clothing in an attempt to cover up the crime.

    Regardless whatever caused the supposed flood on the 4th floor would seemingly illustrate obvious crime and deem the accidental death claims completely incredulous.

    In the end, if the LAPD performed a lackluster investigation, we can’t blame the coroner for his autopsy report. He has to go off of the information he has been given.

  52. ORIGINALES says:

    Firstly the elevator is not broken.If u observe u can see that the victim pushes the buttons twice nad also the elevator closes twice as if something was holding it back.Its clear that something frightened the victim-a scream maybe-and was trying to get out of there.She maybe had some neurological problems but when you have intense stress u can make strange things with your hands-i do sth like that to when i am excited and alone.So the mystery is what prevented the elevator for working properly,what frightened the victim and why she was staring at the mirror when she went out of the elevator

  53. malia says:

    What is strange to me is at the end,the door keeps opening and closing,but why does the color of the wall change to orange? It’s almost like someone or something wants us to notice it. There is a movie called Dark Waters you must see its strange, this movie was made before the Lam tragedy and the little girls name was Cecil. A movie called The Beginning is in the making about the Elisa Lam tragedy

  54. JustMe says:

    Heard about this when it happened but never realized how strange the circumstances surrounding it were until I just read in depth about it.
    A few things that bother me.

    The average low temp at night in Los Angles in January is 48 degrees, not swimming weather by any means.

    There is no way a young lady, by herself, from another country willingly went out a hotel window 14 stories up, in the middle of the night and then proceeded to climb a 2 story vertical ladder on top of it at a hotel she could not have known anything about. I have spent many years in construction, working in high places and my life would have to be in danger for me to do that.

    I have seen no rational explanation for why the elevator doors did not close other than someone was outside holding the button. No elevator “hold” button I have ever seen holds a door that long. The only way to do that from inside the elevator is to hit the “stop” or “off” switch which would activate an alarm.

    There is time missing from the security tape, not at the end or the beginning but in the middle.

    Not only would the things above had to have happened but then the EL would have had to strip naked, climb a ladder 8-10 foot tall to the top of the water tank, open the door to the tank, climb over piping and insert herself into tank then close the door behind her self. Even if she was intentionally trying to kill herself I highly doubt she would have been concerned about removing her cloths before hand and her state of mind would have been to close the tank lid behind herself.

    Add to the above she was hiding in the elevator at one point and then appeared to be talking to someone out side the elevator.

    This does not add up. She was murdered. If the Los Angles Police won’t investigate it then they should be investigated.

  55. Festus08 says:

    1) She probably was not on drugs…
    2) At first, nothing seemed strange…
    3) When the elevator did not move when she expected, she tried to make the
    elevator door close by:
    A) Pressing a number of buttons..
    B) Going out then coming back in, hoping the door would move..
    C) Her hand movement was probably due to trying to activate door movement via censors..
    4) After she departs, the elevator finally works..
    5) She probably did not go up to the top of the building, take off her clothes, and go naked inside a water tank..
    6) She was probably murdered elsewhere, and later put in the water tank..
    7) An employee or someone who knew that hotel well enough probably was the murderer.
    8) I would not doubt that she was raped or an attempted rape was tried against her..
    9) There may have been more than one person involved..

  56. Joe says:

    This looks very eary to me as well. They way she turns and step she is already out of the frame. Then this shoe (seemingly) seems to lift and step in her direction. I also thought maybe it was a purse but would she have left a purse in the hall as she entered the elevator to begin with. Probably not. I truly believe there was someone else outside that elevator.

  57. Dahlia says:

    I just can’t get over this case. arent there other videos of her while she was staying at cecil hotel? and would a hacker be able to get into the hotels security cameras?

  58. Kayla says:

    I’m a bit late on this whole case, but I don’t see how it’s possible that she died in the cistern. When you die, your body “empties” itself, yet there were no traces of urine or feces found in the water. Investigators claim that there was enough chlorine in the drinking water to kill anything her body would have released, but regular drinking water can’t have that high a concentration of chlorine, can it?

    If that statement is true, she had to have died elsewhere and moved to the water tower.

  59. Kayla says:

    She actually pressed the door hold button, I’ve seen videos on other sites showing that when pressed, the door hold button will keep the door open for 2 minutes. She pressed this button both times she was pressing buttons in the elevator. Since she knelt down and out her face so close to the panel, it doesn’t seem like that button was pressed accidentally.

    I’m thinking she was holding the door for someone, the person never came to the elevator (perhaps someone who knew the hotel, and knew there would be security cams there).

  60. Kayla says:

    It’s because she pressed the door hold button which keeps the elevator door open for (a ridiculous) 2 minutes. She pressed it twice, when the door closes it’s because the elevator is going down to the other floors that she pressed (hence the wall color change).

  61. ed says:

    of course they looked like different floors. That’s because they were! The elevator traveled. Duh.

  62. ed says:

    I’m certain any other videos have all been confiscated via police investigation. Apart from direct family members – We, the public, are usually the *last to know*.

  63. luke says:

    Did anyone see the colour change ou side of the elevator?, the walls outside was black and when the door finally closed it turned to orange? Can someone explain?

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