Blood in the water

The murder and the hauntings inside the Los Angeles Cecil Hotel.

An early photo of the Cecil hotel shows the darkness that surround the building throughout this time.

An early photo of the Cecil hotel shows the darkness that surround the building throughout this time.

Ava Spokis, Staff Writer

The Cecil hotel was first opened in 1927. It was supposed to be a hotel for international businessmen and social elites.

Since the opening, mysterious crimes began to occur. At least 16 murders, suicides, and unexplained paranormal activity has been chronicled.

Two years after opening, the Great Depression struck, an economic shock that impacted a period of depression that became evident after major fall in stock prices in the United States. Soon after the area surrounding the Cecil hotel became known as “skid row” and the hotel became home to thousands of homeless people.

How did the Great Depression affect crime?

The crime rate in many cities went down, but national crime statistics were not as reliable in the 1930s. Still, local police records and citizens recorded fewer crimes.

The once beautiful hotel became known as something else with a reputation of junkies, runaways, and criminals.

One significant person, Richard Ramirez, better known as the “night stalker”, murdered 13 people while living at the top floor of the hotel. His victims, some of whom survived, were sexually assaulted and beaten. In most, the Satanic symbol was found at the crime scenes. 

A case that was most significant is the death of Elisa Lam, 21.

Elisa Lam, the main victim within this case.                                            (Facebook (

Her case was one that shocked millions, and there are unanswered questions as to what truly happened to her.

Lam was from Vancouver, British Columbia, and traveled alone to Los Angeles on January 26th and died five days later. 

The bizarre but intriguing surveillance video shown prior to her death raised many questions and suspicion that there may be more behind this case. 

The hotel video shows Elisa acting rather strange, as she begins by pushing all the buttons on the elevator and acting as if she is being followed, poking her head out into the hall multiple times before fully stepping out. 

This added to the public suspicion that the hotel is haunted.

Or, was this an example of insanity, the state of being seriously mentally ill, madness?

Elisa Lam’s case was later ruled as an accident with bipolar disorder being a significant contributing factor. According to her blog, she wrote between thought and action, “I spent about two days in the bed hating myself.” The darkness surrounding her began to overwhelm the aspect of her everyday life.

People with mental illness are up to six times more likely to die in an accident than the general population.

On February 19, 2013, her body was found by a maintenance worker, She was last seen alive January 31 and reported missing by her parents February 1st. 

She was found floating at the top of one of the hotel water tanks after several complaints of low water pressure and “weird tastes” from the tap. 

Elisa Lam’s body was found inside one of the four water tanks on the roof of the hotel. (

The police were trying to figure out if the death was a result of foul play or an accident. Her case was treated as suspicious due to the lack of evidence and answers surrounding how and why it happened. 

Though the authorities deemed her death as an accidental drowning, many believed otherwise.

After the surveillance video surfaced to the public, many people became invested into the case and searched for their own answers.

What about the other people staying at the hotel?

Well, after the body was found, the Los Angeles county department of public health officials issued a no drink order. They tested the water, and to be able to call it safe from fatal contaminations,  the hotel hired water treatment specialists to disinfect the plumbing lines.

As for 2014, the hotel was sold for $30 million to Richard Born, closed in 2017 and hasn’t opened since…