Reports began to flood into management of the Cecil Hotel about the water in February 2013. It was discolored and had a strange odor. Investigating the complaints, maintenance workers discovered the body of Elisa Lam in the water tank on top of the hotel. The Canadian woman had been missing for nearly a month.
Her death and the days leading up to her disappearance are strange. Video surveillance released to the public shows her acting odd. She’s double checking around corners, peeking out of elevators, and seemingly nervous about someone following her on the day she goes missing. Wikipedia has a huge explanation of the events that can be seen on the video along with a host of theories to suggest why she was acting that way.
Furthermore, the tanks themselves required some negotiating. They are eight feet tall and require a ladder to open, but there isn’t a ladder attached to them. The lids are heavy, not to mention bulky, making it impossible for a girl to climb a ladder, jump into the tank, close the lid, and then remove the ladder. Yet, her death was labelled an accident.
However, the Cecil Hotel is no stranger to dark days. Reportedly, it was home to Richard Ramirez, The Night Stalker, in 1985. Then in 1991, serial killer Johann Unterweger stayed there during after he was released from prison in 1990 for murdering a prostitute in Austria. In the US, Unterweger started back up and began killing prostitutes in San Francisco. He committed suicide in 1994, but by then he had been linked to murders in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, and the US. Also, some anecdotal evidence that Elizabeth Short visited the hotel shortly before her death, however, this seems to be mostly wild imagination and no concrete proof exists.
What isn’t speculation is that since the hotel’s inception, several murders and suicides have happened on the grounds. It has been linked to two serial killers with a third possible connection to one of the I-5 killers. Also, it has been linked to organized crime on a few occasions.
These have all led some to believe The Cecil Hotel to be haunted and the show American Horror Story: Hotel is loosely based on the history of The Cecil. In recent years, the hotel has changed names, but it can’t change its legacy.