Elisa Lam, a Canadian student who was found dead in a water tank on top of the Cecil Hotel, is getting new attention from a Netflix show about the case that premiers next month. The four-episode docuseries will cover her mysterious disappearance and subsequent death in 2013.
In January 2013, Lam traveled from British Columbia to California, traveling alone on Amtrak and busses. After spending two days in Los Angeles, she checked into the Cecil Hotel. Other guests reported strange behavior. On January 31, after she was supposed to check out of the hotel, and her parents hadn’t heard from her, a search for Lam began.
After she had been missing for two weeks, a bizarre video of Lam in the hotel elevator surfaced, leading to increased interest in the case. It’s the last known sighting of Lam alive.
On February 19, after guests complained of problems with the water, Lam’s body was discovered in one of the water tanks on the roof of the hotel. Lam was found completely naked. The LA coroner ruled her death an accidental drowning with Lam’s bipolar disorder as a significant factor. Although the case is technically resolved, a lot of unanswered questions remain.
The Cecil Hotel has a sordid history that extends far beyond Elisa Lam. The hotel was built in the 1920s but lost much of its quality in the Great Depression. As Skid Row formed in downtown Los Angeles around the hotel, things went decidedly downhill. In 1964, Goldie Osgood was raped and murdered in her hotel room at the Cecil. Her case was never solved. Serial killers Jack Unterweger and Richard Ramirez both lived there while active in their serial killings. Multiple suicides have taken place at the hotel, one killing a pedestrian below.
Between the mysteries of the case and the darkness surrounding the hotel itself, this whole situation is pretty much built for Netflix. True crime has historically been an area of great success for the streaming platform. From Making a Murderer to 2020’s reboot of Unsolved Mysteries, Netflix has created hit after hit in the genre. This show is likely to fill that same role.
Learn all about Elisa Lam and The Cecil Hotel when the show premiers February 10.