Netflix Crime Series Explores the Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam

January 16, 2021

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel is a docuseries from Netflix, a four-episode season with an episode exploring the mysterious death surrounding Elisa Lam. It’s set to premiere on February 10, according to Variety.

Executive producer and director Joe Berlinger stated:

“As a true-crime documentarian, I was fascinated in 2013 when the elevator video of Elisa Lam went viral and legions of amateur detectives used the internet to try to solve the mystery of what happened to her, a 21-year-old Canadian tourist on her first trip to Los Angeles. So, when journalist Josh Dean, who is also a producer on the project, brought us his research into this case, we realized there was as an opportunity to do something different by not just telling the story of Elisa’s disappearance, but to create a series that explores a particular location’s role in encouraging or abetting crime — or the perception thereof.”

Lam’s body was eventually found on the roof of the hotel, completely nude inside a water tank, which was drilled shut from the outside. She was reported missing on January 31, 2013. Her body was not found until February 19, 2013.

Elisa Lam was a Canadian student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She was the daughter of Hong Kong immigrants. She decided to travel to California for vacation.

The Global News provided a timeline of Elisa Lam back in 2013.

  • January 26, 2013: Lam traveled to California
  • January 31, 2013: Lam was last spotted by a hotel worker at The Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles. The Cecil Hotel is close to a neighborhood known as ‘Skid Row’, where drug use occurs and homelessness is prevalent.
  • Start of February 2013: Lam was supposed to check-out but didn’t show up and it sparked notifying the police.
  • February 6, 2013:LA Police Department release details about the suspicious disappearance of a missing Vancouver woman.
  • February 7, 2013:LAPD hold a press conference about Lam’s disappearance.
  • February 14, 2013: LAPD release a two-minute surveillance video of Lam who seems to be acting unusual in the hotel’s elevator, pushing several floor buttons, stepping outside the elevator, and then leaving. Concern is mounting regarding the student’s disappearance.
  • February 19, 2013: After complaints of low water pressure from guests at the Cecil Hotel, a worker checks the hotel’s water tanks and discovers a body. It’s later identified as the missing Elisa Lam.
  • February 20, 2013: Officials issue a ‘do-not-drink’ order to the hotel residents after Lam’s body is found in the water tank. LAPD is investigating and trying to determine if Lam’s death was due to foul play or an accident?

The Cecil Hotel is a notoriously strange location. Convicted serial killer and Satan worshipper, Richard “The Nightstalker” Ramirez stayed at the hotel from 1984 through 1985. Austrian serial killer Jack Unterwager also stayed at the hotel in 1991.

The hotel was also the site of an unsolved murder in 1964 and was one of the last locations the Black Dahlia was seen alive in the 1940s. The hotel was also the scene of numerous suicides—people jumping to their deaths.

The Black Dahlia. Image via The Daily Mail

Feature Images via Insider

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