The Unresolved Real Death Mystery of Elisa Lam

Elisa Lam

The case of Elisa Lam shocked the entire states of America as well as Canada and later the whole world. This is one of the most talked-about mysterious deaths anyone has ever seen. It involves paranormal collusion, psychological involvement and a tint of serial psychopaths. Elisa was born in the year 1991, on the 30th of April in British Columbia, Canada.

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She was a student at the University of British Columbia. She lived with her parents, David, and Yinna Lam, who are of Chinese descent. Her Chinese name was Lam Ho Yi. She belonged to Hong Kong originally, as her parents migrated to Canada from China and opened a restaurant in Burnaby, Canada.




Elisa, just like another teenager was a lively and friendly girl, as described by her peers. She was her parent’s sweetheart. Elisa was young and beautiful, she was perhaps a smart girl as she was pursuing her education from the University of British Columbia. Her family members and friends did not report any strange or odd conduct from her side. She seemed like a normal next door girl until her horrifying death came along. Her parents were taken aback by the disappearance and were left staggered after finding out that their daughter’s decayed, naked body was found in a water tank.

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Later on, it was found out that she had troubles, both at her college and in her social life. She was depressed, had relationship problems and was also suffering from psychological illnesses, not one but multiple and it was strange that Elisa wasn’t registered at her university until 2013.

She often went by a quote written by Chuck Palahniuk, ‘You’re always haunted by the idea you’re wasting your life’. It wasn’t surprising that she had a blog named “Nouvelle Nouveau”, she later switched to Tumblr.


What really happened?

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Elisa planned a tour to the states. She was really excited about her trip and named it the ‘West Coast Tour’. Little did she know that it would be the last trip of her life. She left in the last week of January 2013. It was a solo trip, she wanted to take a break and have some rest. Before checking into Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, now renamed to Stay On Main Hotel, she went to the San Diego Zoo as she posted of her trip on social media. She came to LA on the 26th of Jan and arrived at Cecil for her stay two days later, i.e. in between 28th to 29th  Jan. She traveled using the Amtrak – the national railroad passenger corporation that provided a route for Canada and the states, and the intercity bus system.

In Cecil, she first lived in their dormitory on her arrival, until her roommates complained about her strange behavior, due to which she was moved to a private room. Her shared room was on the fifth floor of the hotel, she checked into her private room after two days.

Elisa made it a ritual, to call her parents every night and spoke to them about how her trip was progressing, her day to day activities, etc. On Jan 31st, the day of her disappearance, she was supposed to check out of the hotel according to her tour plan but apparently she never checked out. She did not call her parents that day which perturbed them. They contacted the local authorities and it was found out, that some of her things were out of place and missing, but her main belongings were there in the room. Many people who saw her that day didn’t find anything apprehensive or cynical. She was declared missing and the police arrived.


Disappearance to discovery

Disappearance of elisa lam

Elisa was officially declared missing. Police checked the hotel, tried tracing her tracks but there was no sign of her. She was supposed to leave for Santa Cruz. Her parents reached LA to help with the investigation and look for her. Even police dogs were involved but nothing seemed to work. No suspicious sign was found, no trails left behind, no suspects were identified. The case had already become strange. Her parents were outraged and heartbroken. The police hadn’t led anywhere.

After numerous complaints from the guests of Cecil, the water tankers were checked. They complained that the water tasted weird. It appeared black for a few seconds and it would take some time for the water to appear normal. On February 19th, 2013, the maintenance team checked the tankers and what they found was something terrifying to the guts. It was Elisa Lam’s decayed body. Her body was naked and found with the belongings that were missing from her room. Till date, this case always pops up in the list of mysterious killings. It was stated that she died due to drowning but this was unacceptable by her parents. They not only pressed charges against the hotel but also refused to believe that their daughter could’ve attempted suicide. The chances of suicide were bleak due to many reasons. Nobody knows how she could’ve entered the tank.

Katie Orphan, owner of a bookshop, close to the hotel, stated that Elisa looked like a happy and friendly girl who was a little chatty as she would always talk to her about the books that she would take for her family members and for her traveling.

Elisa lam Youtube Video


However, luckily a video of hers got captured in the CCTV. It was found on 1st Feb and released on 15th Feb. It triggered various debates and almost everyone had their own opinion on it. This horror-stricken video spread very quickly and scared the bejesus out of everyone who saw it. Even now, many people remember Elisa as the spooky elevator girl. She was seen frantically moving and trying to hide from someone. She would move in and out of the lift and what was even scary was that in the whole video of 4 minutes, the lift doors wouldn’t close. She even steps out for a longer duration, during which she can be seen talking to someone and later on moving her hands oddly as if floating. It was found unsettling to watch by many and left the viewers uncomfortable. Some even claimed it to be fake and tampered.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TjVBpyTeZM[/embedyt]


Suspicion on Elisa?

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At the beginning of the case, no one raised a finger at Elisa and nothing about her odd behavior came out but gradually it was disclosed that she was on heavy medications. It was also found out that she was on disorder medicines like Wellbutrin, Lamictal, Seroquel, and Effexor. She was clearly suffering from bipolar disorder and depression. Even though her parents prevented this from coming out, the secret was disclosed. Her friends and teachers also told that she had problems coping up with the school curriculum and faced various other issues like that of relationships and depression. She often missed classes and even went missing for a brief period back in Canada.

The elevator video brought many debates into action, most people believed that she even suffered from hallucination, as she was seen talking to someone and trying to hide.

Some also predicted that she was hiding from none other than the ‘The Night Stalker’ Richard Ramirez, while others said she was hiding from an imaginary lover, as she was noticed to be paying more attention to her looks lately, before disappearing.


Could it be a paranormal invasion?

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Amidst all the other theories coming forward during that time, it is also considered that it could’ve been a ghost murder. The investigations suggested that it was pretty difficult to reach the water tank area and it was almost impossible for a 21-year-old to lift up a 20-pound lid, even the firefighters had to make some kind of a hole to enter the place. To reach the tanker cell, she could’ve either climbed the fire escapes or there was another way, using a rooftop door but that would’ve rung an alarm and there was no report of an alarm ringing. Looking at the video, it even looks impossible for her to limb the tank platform and reach the lid of the tanker which suggests that someone murdered her and threw her body in the tank. She was found naked which points a finger towards rape but no physical injury was found in the autopsy reports. Her lungs were filled with water and hence the reason for death was stated as natural, drowning. Since reaching the tank was nearly impossible, ghost conspiracy theories came up. The history of the hotel is also messed up and would make anyone believe that it’s a ghost’s work. The evidence of Elisa, talking to nobody in the elevator video also spikes up the theory. She’s seen hiding from someone, then talking, which makes the ghost story seem true as there was neither a trace of a murderer nor any suicide evidence.


The mysterious Cecil Hotel and its tales

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The hotel Cecil, opened in 1927, now renamed to ‘stay on main’ is one of the most controversial stays of LA and perhaps ‘the place’ for the state police department. It must’ve seen the most number of serial killers and the killings began from as early as the year 1931. Here are five creepy stories that crawled out of Cecil apart from Elisa Lam’s.


  1. Richard Ramirez


He was a serial killer, rapist and a human butcher. He was nicknamed as ‘the night stalker’. His murders were elucidated as, “cruelty, callousness, and viciousness beyond any human understanding.” It was also believed it was his ghost who killed Elisa but it’s definitely untrue as Elisa died in Feb 2013 while he died in June 2013 and was alive even after her death.

Cecil was a cheap play to stay at and hence it was a popular hangout place for deviants and junkies. It was easier for Richard to stay at the inn as well as target the guests.


  1. Pigeon Goldie Osgood


Like Elisa, even Pigeon’s death was an unsolved mystery. She was a retired phone operator. She was called pigeon as she was often seen feeding them. She was 79 years old and was brutally raped, stabbed, beaten and murdered. The paper sack filled with birdfeed was found near her dead body along with her Los Angeles Dodgers cap. Before Elisa’s case, this was the most talked about.


  1. Captured Ghost


In 2014, a boy recorded a ghost on his camera on the window of Cecil. The boy also reported, that the figure appeared almost transparent and stared back creepily towards him and caused him many restless and sleepless nights.


  1. Youngest victim


In 1944, a 19-year-old threw her newborn baby out of the window. She was proven not guilty under pleading by insanity. Apparently she delivered the baby herself in the washroom of the room she had checked into, she didn’t even wake her partner up and immediately threw her son, saying that the baby was born still.


  1. Jack Unterweger

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He was clearly a psychopath. This Austrian journalist went after prostitutes and murdered around 11 of them in multiple cities, namely LA, Prague, and Vienna. The irony was that as a journalist in LA, he used to write on the genre of crime. He was arrested in Miami and while serving he hanged himself in 1994.


Inspired by ‘Dark Water’?


Eight years before the case of Elisa, a movie of the same happening was released in 2005. It’s a remake of a Japanese film. It involves a debilitated elevator and even discolored water oozing out from faucets. The body of a girl is found in a tank. Like Elisa’s case, foul water leads to the tank and a dead girl is found who went missing a year ago.

Later, many movies and tv shows saw the same or similar storylines like that of‘castle’, ‘how to get away with murder’,’ hungry ghost ritual’ and more.


Final Verdict


The final verdict was stated as death from drowning, however, Elisa’s parents did not agree with it as they believed that their daughter wasn’t suicidal at all. It was discovered how she died but it still hasn’t been found out she reached the tank. Some even claimed that what if the killer knew about the camera and hence didn’t appear in front of it knowingly as this wouldn’t have stopped Elisa from being scared or start acting crazy.

Lam’s parents filed a wrongful death suit but it was dismissed in 2015.



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