Mollie Chambers

The Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, California is most commonly known for the death, violence and overall strange activity it seems to attract. Since it was built in 1924, 16 deaths have occurred on the grounds of the Cecil. Of these deaths, the one that sticks out the most to me is the death of Elisa Lam.

Elisa Lam was a 21-year-old college student taking a solo trip to visit California. She began her stay in the Cecil Hotel on Jan. 26, 2013. Her parents were hesitant to let her travel alone; however, they let her go on the condition that she called them every day. Lam kept in constant contact, which is why on Jan. 31 they found it odd that she hadn’t called them.

After failing to get in contact with their daughter, her parents called the Los Angeles Police Department. The police searched the hotel, however Lam was nowhere to be found. During their investigation, they found strange surveillance footage of Lam on an elevator.

Personally, this footage give me the creeps. It’s evident from Elisa’s body language that something was wrong. It even seems like she is having a heated discussion with someone else although she appears to be alone in the video.

Two weeks after Lam was declared missing, hotel guests began complaining about the water pressure in their rooms. Some guests even mentioned their water coming out black or having a strange taste. After receiving these complaints, a hotel maintenance worker checked the water tank where he found Elisa Lam’s dead body.

Lam’s body was found naked with her clothes and other personal belongings floating around her. First responders had to cut the side of the tank open in order to retrieve her decaying body.

One of the most disturbing things about Elisa’s death was the discovery of her body. Not only did it start by hotel guests unknowingly drinking the remains of her decaying body, it was also seemingly impossible for Elisa or anyone else to have gotten her into the water tank.

The water tank was located on the roof of the hotel and all doors and stairs leading to the tank were only accessible by hotel staff. Any excessive force on any of the entryways to the water tank would have triggered an alarm. This means that gaining entry to the hotel’s roof and water tank was very difficult.

After four months, Lam’s autopsy report was released, however the report caused even more confusion. The report states that Lam’s body showed no signs of trauma and ruled her death accidental.

I’m not really sure how a person would accidentally drown naked in a water tank. It seems to me like Lam was murdered and placed in the water tank, but there is little-to-no evidence that supports this theory.

After Elisa’s death, her parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit in order to obtain more information about their daughter’s death, however it was sadly dismissed meaning this case remains closed.

I still have a gut feeling that foul play was involved in Elisa’s death. Because of this, I hope that one day her case is reopened. Not only for my curiosity, but so her family can finally get the peace they deserve regarding their daughter’s death.

Mollie Chambers is a sophomore majoring in journalism and electronic media. She can be reached at mollcham@vols.utk.edu.

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