What Happened to Elisa Lam? Full Story of Her Mysterious Death

Today, we are going to share the story of Elisa Lam’s life with you. For those of you who are unaware, let us tell you, Elisa Lam was a college student originally from Canada who went missing from Los Angeles’ Cecil Hotel in the year 2013. Unfortunately, the 21-year-old was found dead later on in the same year.

The Cecil Hotel doesn’t have a good reputation. In a four-part series titled Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel that dropped on Netflix in 2021, Amy Price, the general manager of the hotel mentioned that nearly 80 people died there between the years 2007 and 2017. The hotel had visitors like serial killers Jack Unterweger and Richard Ramirez who used to stay there very often. Read on to know everything about Elisa Lam and her death.

Who was Elisa Lam?

Elisa Lam was the daughter of Hong Kong immigrants. She was born on April 30, 1991, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Her real name was Lam Ho-yi. Back in the day, she was a student at the University of British Columbia, however, she was not registered at the beginning of 2013.

In mid-2010, Lam started a blog under the name Ether Fields on the online platform Blogspot. In the next 2 years, she shared pictures of models in stunning fashionable clothes on the blog. In addition to this, she also gave her followers a closer look at her personal life including her struggle with mental health issues.

In a January 2012 post shared on her blog, Elisa talked about how she had to miss a couple of classes due to a “relapse” at the start of the current school term. In the post, she mentioned that she felt “so utterly directionless and lost.” The title of her post was after a quotation from famous novelist Chuck Palahniuk. It read, “You’re always haunted by the idea you’re wasting your life.” At that point, she was also concerned about her transcript and she thought that it would look suspicious with so many withdrawals which would result in her being unable to continue her studies and attend graduate school.

Nearly 2 years after Lam started blogging on Blogspot, she shared that she would no longer be active on her blog Ether Fields as she had created another blog on Tumblr, titled “Nouvelle-Nouveau”. The content of the blog revolved around fashion photos, quotes, and some of her own words.

Around the same time, Elisa had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression. Then, the doctors prescribed her to take a few medicines: the anti-convulsant Lamotrigdine, the anti-depressant Wellbutrin, and an anti-epileptic and mood stabilizer Quetiapine. Her family, who kept her mental issues private, stated that she had no history of suicidal ideations. However, a report claimed that she went missing for a short period. She didn’t take her bipolar medicines and due to that she even suffered hallucinations on several occasions and to overcome that she would hide under her bed. She was even hospitalized once for one of such episodes.

When we shed some light on Lam’s journey to California, she traveled alone on Amtrak and intercity buses. She even paid a visit to the San Diego Zoo and uploaded a series of photos taken there on social media. She arrived in Los Angeles on January 26. After 2 days, she checked into the Cecil Hotel near Downtown’s Skid Row.

At first, Elisa was allotted a shared room on the fifth floor of the hotel although her roommates complained about what the hotel’s lawyer would later refer to as “certain odd behavior” and 2 days later, she was shifted to her own room. As per Amy Price, the manager of the Cecil Hotel and Stay on Main at the time of Lam’s disappearance, Elisa was leaving notes for her roommates that said “go home” and “go away,” and she would often lock the door of her room and need a password for entry.

 Elisa Lam went missing in 2013

The 21-year-old Canadian student Elisa Lam was in touch with her parents while traveling until the day she disappeared. She went missing from the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles in the year 2013. She was supposed to check out of the Cecil Hotel on January 31, 2013, and leave for Santa Cruz. Soon after, her parents couldn’t contact her and called the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). At that point, her family flew to Los Angeles to help with the search.

A staff member of the hotel who saw Lam that day stated that she was alone. Apart from that, Katie Orphan, manager of The Last Bookstore, was the only person who recalled seeing her that day. Orphan had a chat with CNN while getting gifts to take home to her family, and she talked about Elisa and said, “She was outgoing, very lively, very friendly.” Katie went on to say, “[She was] talking about what book she was getting and whether or not what she was getting would be too heavy for her to carry around as she traveled.”

Before Lam vanished, a video of her which was filmed in a hotel elevator went viral when it was released by the Los Angeles Police Department during the investigation of the missing case. As per Women’s Health, in the video, she can be seen jumping in and out of the elevator as if she thinks she’s being followed before she finally exits the elevator and disappears.

When was Elisa Lam found?

Nearly 2 weeks after Elisa went missing, her body was found in a water tank on the hotel’s roof after the guests complained about the quality of the water. A few people stated that the video was proof of supernatural activity. The conspiracy theories about the disappearance of Elisa are going on to this day. And that was one of the reasons why the director Joe Berlinger decided to make the true crime docu-series Crime Scene: The Vanishing at Cecil Hotel.

In an earlier interview with Radio 1 Newsbeat, the director of the Netflix series Joe Berlinger said, “This story has been told before, but I think it’s been done very irresponsibly in the past. For the average viewer it’s another compelling story you watch and then move on to the next. But for who this happened to, it’s the worst moment in their life. It’s a real tragedy for that person and that family.”

Many people stated that the elevator video of Elisa had a lot of similarities to the plot of the horror movie Dark Water. According to BBC, Joe went on to say, “We certainly need to talk about the ghost stories and contextualize them. It’s not like you can avoid it, because that’s a big part of the story.”

In Netflix’s true crime docuseries, Crime Scene: The Vanishing at Cecil Hotel, you will not see any family members of the Canadian student Elisa Lam talking about the incident but you will get to watch them in some news archive footage. And they knew that Joe was retelling the story.

Berlinger further added, “I think they just were wanting to move on. If you look at the other tellings of the story, you’d see she’s the victim of some horrible, evil presence that took control of her. Those kinds of narratives, I think, are incredibly disrespectful and probably why the family just didn’t want to deal with another show that was going to exaggerate the circumstances of the tragedy.”

At that point, Amy Price, the hotel’s manager talked about watching documentaries and she told Newsbeat, “Usually, I just roll my eyes and think, ‘oh, here’s another one.’ There have been so many pieces done on this and to be honest, I haven’t watched any of them.” She went on to say that this one “feels right.”

At the time of Lam’s disappearance, the Cecil Hotel set in the heart of downtown LA wasn’t any typical hotel. It had a big homelessness problem. Some floors of the hotel were reserved for visitors like Elisa, meanwhile, the others were for the people who lived in this “skid row” area. After Elisa’s disappearance, all the fingers were pointed at the residents and staff of the hotel which Amy says was “stressful and heartbreaking.”

Amy added, “From the beginning when Elisa went missing, I just had a bad feeling about it. She was traveling alone and I really thought that she must have gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd and that wouldn’t be hard to do in downtown Los Angeles.”

As per CBC, in a deposition, LAPD detective Wallace Tennelle said, “My opinion is that she fell off her medication, and in her state, she happened to find her way onto the roof, got into the tank of water. At the time, I think that water tank was maybe full. But as people used the tank, used water, unknown to her, the level was dropping to a point where she could no longer reach out and escape, and she died that way.”

Have you seen Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel? If you have watched the docu-series, kindly share your thoughts in the comments section below. Stay tuned with us for more updates.

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