In 2013, Elisa Lam was found dead in a water tower on top of the notorious Hotel Cecil. After an in-depth investigation, police could never pinpoint an exact cause of death. This is the story of what happened:
Our mystery starts at the Stay on Main hotel in L.A., formerly known as Hotel Cecil.
On Jan. 26, 2013, 21-year-old Canadian tourist Elisa Lam checked into the Hotel Cecil in downtown Los Angeles.
On Feb. 19, 18 days after she was last seen, her body was found naked and floating in a 4-by-8-foot water tank on the roof of the hotel. She was only found after guests complained about the low water pressure in the hotel.
One couple recalled that the water came out black and had a bad taste, but they didn't complain at the time because they thought it was "normal for L.A."*
Though our investigator, Brent, thought it tasted all right.
When Elisa first checked into the hotel, she was in a hostel-style shared room. She was later moved to her own room due to complaints from her roommates of "odd behavior."
The last time she was seen was on surveillance footage in the hotel elevator.
In the footage, Elisa is behaving oddly: She is seen darting in and out of the elevator and hiding in the corner...
She also seems to have some sort of conversation in the hallway, though it's unclear if it's with an imaginary or real person.
So, what does this tell us about Elisa's death? Well, one theory is that Elisa was on some sort of hallucinogen. She was also being treated for bipolar disorder.
However, the toxicology report showed there was nothing in Elisa's system that could have contributed to her death.
The other theory? Some believe that Elisa was actually murdered, though her autopsy showed no signs of trauma.
So, if it wasn't foul play and it wasn't hallucinogens...what was it?
To get up to the water tank, Elisa would have had to climb out of a window and onto the fire escape, or through a locked and alarmed rooftop door.
Judging by Elisa's state in the video, is it likely she could have climbed out a window, up a fire escape, up a 10-foot tank, and opened and then closed a 20-pound hatch behind her?
Another theory is that Elisa, who was seen talking to someone on the surveillance footage, was actually speaking to serial killer Richard Ramirez. Ramirez was convicted of 13 murders and stayed in the Hotel Cecil from 1984 to 1985.
And that's not the only weird stuff that has happened in the Hotel Cecil. It was also home to serial killer Jack Unterweger, the site of an unsolved murder in 1964, and was supposedly one of the last places the Black Dahlia was seen.
Numerous people have killed themselves by jumping from the building.
So what happened to Elisa? The world may never know. And the real tragedy in all of this is her family may never know the truth of what happened.
Richard Ramirez was alive at the time the footage was taken. An earlier version of this post misstated a theory that Elisa was being haunted by the ghost of Richard Ramirez. H/T to Bob Thomas for pointing it out in the comments!