Strange things happen in the world. Sometimes, crimes occur with no explanation.
Closed room murders, mysterious disappearances. They captivate people’s attention.
The lack of any evidence is sometimes far more compelling than the evidence that does exist.
It leads to a lot of wild speculation and theories that speak to the detective in all of us.
And sometimes, there is an answer, hiding in plain sight, as crystal clear as water.
Elisa Lam’s case has led to inspirations in the media and a general dread from the public ever since she died.
She was found dead in a water tank above a Los Angeles hotel, days after passing, and she was only discovered because guests of the hotel were reporting that their water was black and had a bad smell… and taste.
Nearly eight years later and there is still no single answer as to how she did it.
10 /10 The Cecil Hotel
The site of Elisa Lam’s last location and her death was the Cecil Hotel, which is near L.A.’s dangerous downtown Skid Row neighborhood.
She arrived at the hotel after visiting the San Diego Zoo. The hotel featured an old water tank on the roof from its 1920s design.
It had been updated since but still worked just fine. Lam checked into the hotel on January 26th. It had shared and solo rooms.
Despite traveling alone, Lam was given a shared space until her roommates’ complaints forced the hotel staff to assign her to a solo one instead.
9 /10 Vanishing
Elisa Lam’s initial checkout was meant to be January 31st, 2013. When that date came and went without her being seen, her parents immediately called.
She was supposed to leave for Santa Cruz to start the trip home and call her parents every day as part of the deal for her traveling alone.
Elisa’s parents called the LAPD and launched an immediate investigation, which took nearly a month to complete before they found her.
8 /10 The Elevator Ride
On February 1st, authorities analyzed video surveillance footage of the last sighting of Elisa Lam as she rode one of the hotel’s elevators.
It showed her in a red sweater, which she was seen wearing before. She acted erratically and nervously.
She pushed multiple floor buttons, looked down the hall repeatedly when the doors opened before retreating inside, and stuck to the back corner of the elevator for the whole ride.
Eventually, she got out, turned down the hall, and was never seen again. On February 15th, that footage was released to the public, and it erupted into a media storm.