Eccentric Elisa and the Evil Elevator

This death (and possible murder) actually echoes a creepy 2005 film called Dark Water (a significant name for the movie). I wonder if the year 2005 has any connection to this case? Oops, that’s right. One of the suicides in this hotel was a woman whose age was in her 50s – (the number 5 as in 2005). A male victim, 65…there’s the number 5 again who was killed on the sidewalk below when his suicidal wife landed on him. One woman committed suicide on October 12…this victim’s age, 21, with the numbers reversed. This victim was due to graduate university in 20166 – 1 equals 5, as in 2005. Richard Ramirez, aka The Night Stalker, recently died at the age of 53. There’s that 5 again. He stayed at the hotel in 1985…there’s number 5 for you. There are 5 letters in the name Elisa. Yikes. That just has to be supernatural doesn’t it? Of course not.  That’s known as coincidence and the human brain seeking patterns to explain what appears to be mysterious circumstances.

titanic-526653642Think it’s impossible for a movie to detail so many similar occurrences before the actual suicide was committed? Think again. The Titanic (that unsinkable ship) occurred 100 years after the publication of a novel (okay so it’s not a movie) entitled The Titan by Morgan Robertson. In this fiction, the ship was described as unsinkableBoth ships were British-owned steel vessels, both around 800 feet long and sank after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic, in April, “around midnight.” The Titanic crashed into an iceberg “400 miles from Newfoundland” at 25 knots. The Titan crashed into an iceberg 400 miles from Newfoundland at 22.5 knots. Pretty freakin’ cool (pun). That just has to be supernatural doesn’t it? Give me a break. Any connection to the Lam case? Just pointing out what appears to be a supernatural prediction but of course was not. And well the ships were on water and Lam drowned. Terrifyingly supernatural, right?

You’ve been reading about poor Elisa Lam, the Vancouver, B.C. Canadian tourist who was staying at the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles and was found drowned in a water tank on the roof top, with no plausible explanation for her death. Really? Police are trying to convince the public that her death was “accidental due to drowning.”  How about calling it a suspicious death instead? Or a tragic suicide? Now police are stating they “suspect foul play” in the death (that was ruled out by the coroner…you know, I always wondered about the term play – nothing playful about this or any other crime). You have to see the elevator footage of what is believed to be some of Lam’s final moments alive (but not alone with the lights out):

s-ELISA-LAM-largeThere are so many current theories surrounding the pretty young woman’s death that it’s all truly guesswork. There are some plausible explanations and some ridiculous explanations and some that are just truly weird (understandable). Consider the following:

  1. Lam was bipolar, accounting for her strange behaviour (but not accounting for the elevator’s strange workings).
  2. The hotel was haunted (they always come up with that one)
  3. Tuberculosis was rampant in the hotel (apparently no one in L.A. ever heard of a TB vaccine)
  4. Elisa gained access to the water tank on her own then drowned in it.
  5. Police haven’t informed people that unlike TB, bipolar isn’t contagious. Good thing.

Now here are the actual facts of the case (as they appear to be):

  1. elisa_lam_elevatorAt first, Elisa enters the elevator and apparently presses all of its buttons. She then waits for something to happen but, for some reason, the elevator door doesn’t shut.
  2. She starts to look around, as if she is expecting (or hiding from) someone.
  3. Lam appears to be peeking in and out of the elevator as if something is following her. 
  4. At 1:57, her arms and hands start moving in a very strange matter (almost not human) as she appears to be talking to someone, something … or nothing at all.
  5. She then walks away.
  6. The elevator door then shuts and appears to start working again.
  7. Right after the events of the video, Elisa apparently gained access to the rooftop of the hotel, climbed to its water tank and, somehow, ended up drowning in it. Her body was found two weeks after her death, after hotel guests complained about the water’s taste, low pressure and color. Incredible.

Seeing the surveillance footage, most people would conclude that she was under the influence of drugs. However, Elisa did not have a history of drug use and her autopsy concluded that no drugs were involved. When one looks at the context and the circumstances of this death, things become even more mysterious. Why did Elisa press all of the elevator buttons? Who was she talking to in the hallway? Why did the elevator start working without her? How and why did she gain access to the water tank especially when she couldn’t swim?  How about the fact that Lam suffered from bipolar disorder? Here’s a good quote:  If you are involved with anything that could worsen the disorder, such as self-medicating on prescription, (meaning not taking the meds or taking the meds at inappropriate times)nonprescription, or illegal drugs, you need to tell your doctor. This then ensures the appropriate treatment is prescribed. 

  1. richard-ramirezPart of its sordid history, involves two serial killers,  Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger.
  2. Now on death row, Ramirez, labeled “the Nightstalker”, was living at the Cecil Hotel in 1985, in a top floor room.  He was charged 14 dollars a night. (1  plus 4 equals 5). In a building filled with transients, he remained unnoticed as he stalked and killed his 13 female victims. Richard Schave, said “He was dumping his bloody clothes in the Dumpster, at the end of his evening and returned via the back entrance.”
  3. Jack Unterweger, was a journalist covering crime in Los Angeles for an Austrian magazine in 1991.  “We believe he was living at the Cecil Hotel in homage to Ramirez,” Schave said.
  4. He is blamed with killing three prostitutes in Los Angeles, while being a guest at the Cecil.

Helen Gurnee, in her 50s, leaped from a seventh floor window, landing on the Cecil Hotel hotelmarquee, on October 22, 1954.
Julia Moore jumped from her eighth floor room window, on February 11, 1962.
Pauline Otton, 27, jumped from a ninth floor window after an argument with her estranged husband, on October 12, 1962.  Otton landed on George Gianinni, 65, who was walking on the side-walk, 90 feet below. Both were killed instantly.

There was also a murder of one of the residents.  “Pigeon Goldie” Osgood, a retired telephone operator, known for protecting and feeding pigeons in a nearby park, was found dead in his ransacked room on June 4, 1964.  He had been stabbed, strangled, and raped.  The crime remains unsolved.

black-dahlia_1Dahlia, the main protagonist of the movie moves into an apartment building with her young daughter Cecilia. Both of these names are relevant. Black Dahlia is the nickname given to Elizabeth Short, a woman who was the victim of a gruesome murder in 1947, one that appeared to be particularly ritualistic. The case was never solved. According to LA Observed, it is rumored that Black Dahlia was at Cecil Hotel right before she lost her life. We’ll never know if it was indeed the Cecil Hotel where Elizabeth Short was staying but she was in a hotel somewhere in Los Angeles. Lisa is a derivative of the name Elizabeth. Elisa is pretty darned close.

In spite of these oddball facts, I remain a solid skeptic. Consider this quote from Liberty Voice:

No. Elisa Lam was not murdered by a ghost. In fact, the most interesting thing about this story is that it is a perfect example of how the brain fills in details and looks for “evidence” of what the viewer wants to be true. This phenomenon is also known as “confirmation bias.” According to The Skeptic’s Dictionary, confirmation bias is a scientific, psychological term that “refers to a type of selective thinking whereby one tends to notice and to look for what confirms one’s beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one’s beliefs.” I agree with CB (not the TB theory) wholeheartedly. Why? I’m a skeptic about the interference of the supernatural with bizarre behaviour. Consider Ramirez’ murder of so many men and women. Was that supernatural or the actions of a twisted serial killer? I believe we know that answer (hint: not supernatural, although I will grant you unnatural).

The reports going around the internet often omit Lam’s mental illness, and focus on the fact nick cheung elevator 1 realthat no drugs were found in her system and that she was not a known drug user. Actually if Lam was indeed bipolar then there should have been and probably were drugs in her system: specifically those used to control mania and depression, however these aren’t street drugs, nor are they narcotics, so the lack of “drugs in her system” is referring to this fact. Lam’s behavior in the elevator has been described as “almost not human” and “very strange” and yet her behavior resembles a manic episode. The “malfunctioning elevator? The stories don’t focus on the fact that Lam punches multiple floors over and over again. This will cause any elevator to open and close its doors multiple times; and there is nothing mysterious or supernatural about that whatsoever. Why didn’t it open and close when Lam was in the hallway? Who knows? The hotel is an old one. Could that be a factor? I think so.

The police report also states that the water tank in which Lam was found had “unlocked openings.” With regard to CB about the water tanks, people leave out the fact that the water tank in which Lam was found was unlocked. They focus on the fact that the tank was behind a “locked and alarmed door that only employees had the key to.” However, the important information erased from this section of the story is that the tank could also be reached by climbing by an unlocked, unalarmed fire escape that anyone can climb with little effort, especially a fit 21 year old woman. Why would Lam do that? Why do people do anything they do, especially a woman with bipolar disorder who was clearly in a manic episode? People with mania do the weirdest things that can be misinterpreted as “supernatural” depending upon their circumstances. That’s why they call it mental illness.

How can the bizarre nature of Lam’s death (found in a water tank) be explained? Well, Elisa Lam is not the only person who has committed suicide or accidentally drowned in a water tank. In 2010, a Spotswood, NJ man climbed into a remote water tank and drowned. His death was ruled a suicide due to his employment at the time. In 2013, a toddler accidentally drowned in a water tank in Wisconsin. These are just two examples that pop up among hundreds of examples of people who tragically died the same way.

bipolar-disorder-297x300Don’t believe me yet? Check this out: The final, official cause of death was listed as accidental due to drowning, with bipolar disorder listed as a significant condition, influenced by mania due to bipolar disorder. I must interject here and state I completely disagree with this ruling. I am convinced it was a suicide. I elaborate on that further into my blog. After her body was found, city public health officials issued a do-not-drink order for the hotel’s water supply until the hotel drained, flushed and sanitized the water lines. They did not, however, suggest that bipolar disorder is contagious. 

If you’re looking for an explanation as to why Lam would drown herself as a form of suicide when they are so many other ways she could have done the deed without the bizarre use of a water tank consider the suicide of Virginia Woolf who also couldn’t swim:

On March 28, 1941, shortly after the devastating dawn of WWII, Virginia Woolf filled her overcoat pockets with rocks and walked into the River Ousebehind her house never to emerge alive. A relapse of the all-consuming depression she had narrowly escaped in her youth had finally claimed her life. 

The bizarre manner that the three women died after hurling themselves from the hotel

robert-c-wileswindows is  nothing compared to this freakish story: a beautiful young woman named Evelyn McHale dressed up in fashionable attire then jumped from the Empire State Building. Andy Warhol made a silk screen painting of the woman entitled The Most Beautiful Suicide.

ny-times-nov-5-1932I’m sure people will uncover many more “supernatural” details about Lam’s death and I’m also certain they will be definitely ruled out.

BTW here’s another suicide from the ESB. I know the answer to the man’s motive: the Empire State Building is haunted by the ghosts of suicides past. Why haven’t people figured that one out yet?

 Update:  I am convinced just to think about Elisa’s death that this was absolutely a suicide. Why? Cops generally break down a suspicious death into three possible categories: murder, accidental, or suicide. Let’s do the same with poor Elisa’s case.

Murder: no way. The murderer would have to take Elisa up to the rooftop of her hotel, convince her to climb a fence then climb the rungs of the water tank in order to throw her in and drown her. That makes no sense. Why not just push her off the roof? So we can rule out murder.

Accidental death: no way. Who accidentally figures out where the water tank for the hotel is located then climbs a fence to get into it but accidentally falls over the edge and drowns? We can rule out accidental death.

t_SuicidePreventionSuicide: Absolutely. In order for Elisa to know where the water tank was she would have checked it out possibly before the day she killed herself. This is the only way she could know where it was located…in other words this was pre-planned. She willingly climbed the fence and the water vat and voluntarily jumped in. Case closed.

The silly suggestions of ghosts and a history of suicide in the hotel has nothing to do with Elisa Lam’s death. People love to make up this silly stuff. It gives them chills and makes for good dinner conversation. But dissecting the mental state of the victim before her death and the manner of death assures us Elisa Lam took her own life. Elementary, Watson.

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2 Responses to Eccentric Elisa and the Evil Elevator

  1. Captain Underpants says:

    Great post. I work not too far from the Cecil Hotel and I remember when this happened. They have since changed the name of the hotel for whatever reason. I tried to go inside to get a look at the elevator in the video but they will not let anyone inside unless you pay for a room. Also It does not appear to be run down anymore from what I can tell by looking at the lobby. The area around however is pretty bad and full of homeless people making it an unattractive place to be.

    With all the nice hotels in and around Los Angeles, I have no clue as to why a young woman would ever want to stay at the Cecil Hotel alone unless she already knew of its history and was drawn to it.

    I also think it was a suicide and Elisa may of had other issues we will never know about, however one has to admit that hotel has a pretty bad vibe to it and it would be best just to stay someplace else when visiting the wonderful city of Los Angeles. Go Dodgers!

    • helthnut says:

      Thank you for answering. The whole thing sounds very creepy to me. Poor girl. Interesting you’ve been able to see it in person. That certainly gives a clearer perspective.

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