Wednesday, April 06, 2016

E Is for Elisa Lam

This month I'm participating in the A to Z ChallengeMy theme this year is Unsolved Mysteries. Today's letter is:




21-year-old Elisa Lam was a college student on a "west coast tour" when she vacationed at a seedy hotel in L.A. in January 2015. 



She bought some books at a nearby bookstore, returned to the hotel, and disappeared. A search team tried to find her with no luck...until February 13th, when police released this video from just before she disappeared. It was taken in the elevator of her hotel:



She steps in the elevator, steps out of the elevator, looks around, and ducks back in, seeming to hide from someone...or something.



It's the stuff Internet legend is made of. People had a field day wondering what might have been in the hallway. Was someone chasing her? Or was she suffering from some sort of mental breakdown?



Five days after the video was released, hotel guests began complaining about the water pressure in their rooms. The water also had a "funny taste." Hotel employees traced the problem to the water tank on the roof, where they found Elisa's body.



Had she fallen in? Or had someone put her there? Theories seemed to continue to emerge. Two filmmakers demonstrated how she could have easily climbed to the roof through a ladder near an open window, climbed inside the tank, and drowned. Police seem to believe that is what happened.


Why? Apparently Elisa was on medications for mood disorders, and experts believe she had a manic episode. But the murder theories continue to circulate, mostly because they're much more interesting than the truth. Here's the elevator video...decide for yourself.




What do you think happened to Elisa Lam?

⬅️ D Is for D.B. Cooper

75 comments:

  1. Clueless here. She does seem distressed/scared in the video, but mental illness can have that effect too.
    So many sad stories.

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    1. I'm guessing she probably had in her mind that something was after her. Maybe she was even seeing things. She also has a blog out there that she kept for a while that supposedly has some paranoid thoughts in it. I haven't read it.

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  2. JH Moncrieff posted about her. She looks like she's off her meds or something, so it's possible she drowned herself.

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    1. Yeah...the video goes on forever. At one point in the hallway she starts waving her hands like she's conducting an orchestra. It's spooky.

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    2. She'd been depressed in the past. I couldn't find any evidence that she had any type of severe mental illness.

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  3. I absolutely love unsolved mysteries, well, and solved mysteries too since I am a mystery writer (some of the time:) Great theme, by the way! These unsolved mysteries/crimes would make great stories

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    1. The season of American Horror Story "Hotel" was partly inspired by this whole thing. In fact, the Cecil is one of the hotels that they used as a model for their hotel. I can't watch the show--it's too graphic for me--but it would be interesting to see their take on it, if they specifically did something on this.

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  4. Her behaviour in the video does seem a little strange - not just like someone who thinks they are being followed. For example, the number of buttons she pushed and how she looked at them so closely. If could have been an attempt to hide that went horribly wrong.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. Oh...one fact I left out that I read somewhere a while back--she had left her glasses or her contacts or whatever in her hotel room. So for some reason I'm thinking that's why she was hunched over at the buttons. But it makes me wonder how she would have climbed to the roof without her glasses. I couldn't see to do that without my glasses...but some people aren't as visually impaired as I am.

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  5. That seems like a lot of work to kill yourself when you could just overdose peacefully. I mean, who wants to drown?

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    1. I'm guessing in her mind, something was chasing her. (Although that leads me to a "The Shining" type of thinking, which just probably means I've read too many books!) So if she did climb to the roof and climb into that tank and pull the cover back over her, she was running from something...it just was something she was seeing because of her mental condition.

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  6. If she went to the bookstore, where are the books? It looked like she was having some sorta paranoia. But why would she walk all the way up to the tank and get in? Maybe her mental illness had something to do with it.

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    1. She did go to the bookstore, but I believe she had already gone back to her room before this happened. This happened later in the day. The bookstore was simply to establish the last time she was seen (aside from the video).

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  7. That is a strange video. I don't think I've ever seen elevator doors stay open so long. She does appear to be having strange behavior that could be the results of her coming off her meds. Sad (and mysterious) story.

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    1. I know--what's up with the elevator doors? I can't even walk from just outside an elevator to inside it before the doors start trying to close on me!

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    2. 'Door hold' is the bottom button in the middle row and she presses it last. The Chinese investigators showed that the doors stay open for 2 minutes when this button is pressed.

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  8. I was thinking the same thing as Mason about the doors staying open that long. If she was so afraid in the beginning, when she was hiding, why not hit the button to close the doors? The whole thing is so strange. And sad.

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    1. Yeah, if she was genuinely afraid and in her right mind, I think she would have hit the "close doors" button.

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  9. That is super weird and sad. She does seem afraid at first, but then she hits all the buttons and she's doing something with her hands in the hall. Drugs?

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    1. The hand thing is creepy! Those who don't watch the video don't see it--it looks like she's signaling someone or trying to wave something away.

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  10. 21-year-old is too young. scary and strange but one question I have in mind is, "Why is it that the tank entrance were not locked and secured?"

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    1. That question has come up many times...I think the hotel came under fire for it.

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  11. Interesting mystery! From watching the video, it seems like she was off her meds. I would say that she probably did it herself. But I have to agree with luna in the above comment. Wouldn't it need to be locked and secured? Also the elevator doors, I didn't even think of that...but I just walked into an elevator the other day and almost got hit by the doors. Still very sad.... :(

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    1. Luckily this came up on a podcast I was listening to a few days ago, so I can answer--the door to the roof AND the lid to the water tank were both unlocked and unsecured. That was confirmed...all of that is a violation of something, but apparently this particular hotel isn't quite known for being on its game! I think it's all locked now (probably to keep out the many curious amateurs who are now showing up to "investigate" this viral case).

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  12. It looks like she is hiding from someone to me. I think she's being convinced by a ghost to head up to the roof. =) Okay, I don't really, but that's where my writer brain is going.

    Crystal Collier

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    1. LOL, yes, my writer brain wants to make this all kinds of more interesting, too! We creative types aren't limited to scientific explanations. Unfortunately, police officers don't care for our way of thinking much.

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  13. scary and sad. I do think it was done by herself...

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    1. I do, too, which makes this sad. But if you watch the video thinking of supernatural explanations, it's eerie... Police only had two theories--she crawled in there or someone pulled her onto the roof. Apparently there's only one way onto the roof, though, and it would have been tough to get her up the ladder, so she had to have gone on her own.

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  14. Doesn't look like I'll have any original thoughts here, but I was wondering about the lift doors too. Why stay open for so long? I think she was suffering from a mental illness. If she felt someone was chasing her, why step back INTO the hallway? If someone were chasing me, I'd be in the elevator and FRANTICALLY pressing the door close button. I think it's most likely she killed herself. Probably suffering from dementia, and probably didn't realize there was water in the water tank would drown her. You can't reason with a mental illness.

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    1. Yeah, I could easily see how she wouldn't think the tank had water in it if she was delusional. Just looking for a place to hide.

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  15. She shows signs that she is not thinking right and is being paranoid or seeing things. She wouldn't know there a water tank on top of the roof and without her glasses maybe she found a place to hide and drown quite by accident. I feel very sorry for her family to have to see this video.
    Have a beautiful day Stephanie.
    Hugs,
    JB

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    1. I do, too...plus when a case gets this much attention, people bother the family. So many armchair detectives now, thanks to the Internet.

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  16. There was a young man who used to live next door. He went off his meds and jumped from a parking deck at U of M. It's scary what mood disorders make folks do.

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    1. How tragic! It is tough. Medication can help but not always...and only if they take it.

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  17. Oh gosh. This mystery is so perplexing. What happened to her?! And I hate to think others tasted her in the water. :(

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    1. I know...I thought about leaving that part out because it's just so disturbing and it feels disrespectful to her somehow.

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  18. It looks like someone had been following her and she wasn't thinking clearly as to how to evade him or her.

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  19. I knew you were going to choose Elisa for E!

    My sister (you know the one who loves these mysteries) showed this story to me earlier last year after the tragic accident, and then we talked about it again when they started to reveal trailers for the 5th season of the American Horror story.

    It's heartbreaking! I don't for a second believe she was being chased by a ghost* (as the hotel's supposedly haunted). Or that she was 'hiding' from her murderer.

    Honestly I think she had a breakdown and she might have climbed into the water tank to hide from possible hallucinations. But those are all theories...

    *I did read somewhere that the exit to the roof was locked that day (as it usually is) and there's no way she could have passed the door. Still I can't believe a ghost lead poor Elisa to her death. No matter how creepy of a history the hotel possesses...

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    1. No...I don't think it was a ghost, but it's interesting to imagine that. That maybe she saw something in the hallway that nobody else could see. I think that's just fictional embellishment, though.

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  20. Well from watching the video it appears that most of the tape had fallen off her package. I've seen that behavior before and they do the strangest things. Who know what happened to her. She may have been the cause of her demise.

    Have a fabulous a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. That terminology cracked me up--"most of the tape had fallen off her package." I may have to remember that one!

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  21. I think she may have seen something and someone put her there.

    Mary
    #AtoZChallenge E is for Elle

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  22. It's strange how she didn't just go back up in the elevator if she was scared of someone in the lobby, but at the same time, she definitely looked disturbed by something
    Debbie

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  23. This is such a cool A to Z theme! I love it!! Okay, that video is creepy. Who is she talking to? Herself?? It almost looks like she's having a mental breakdown. How incredibly sad.

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  24. This is so creepy and strange. It reminds me of that movie The Grudge. You never know, something really might have been chasing her.

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  25. So creepy! It seemed as if she was having some delusional thoughts, just by the way she was moving her hands, etc. She seemed confused about what she was trying to do more so than where she was trying to go. I feel horrible for her, but I think it was an accident.

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  26. Ghosts don't murder. People do. It doesn't make sense that a manic episode would cause her to climb to the roof and hide in a water tank.

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  27. The video won't play for me, but from the images above I have to wonder if she was paranoid. Did she hide in the water tank and drown? Very odd.

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  28. Why did I have to see this post!!. I didn't play the video, the images were enough to put me off lifts for a lifetime. Where are you finding these cases?
    Fran
    @FranClarkAuthor
    Writing Women’s Fiction

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  29. Okay, that is absolutely freaky. Do you write based on any of these?

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  30. The video is so odd. It's like the elevator isn't working right or something. All those buttons she pushes. She clearly seems to think something is after her.

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  31. I am LOVING these stories...so scary!

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  32. Poor soul. Delusions or not, such a tragic story. I'm not convinced she killed herself - intentionally.

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  33. Ugh...how dreadful! I would have never thought that she was suffering some sort of breakdown. Interesting theory.

    Cheers - Ellen | Oui, c'est vrai. Il est plus agreable d'apprendre une autre langue lorsque le sujet vous interesse. Je regarde des emissions en francais avec les sous-titres en anglais. Si je ne comprends pas quelque chose, je peux lire le sous-titre.

    Cheers - Ellen | http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/2016/04/e-is-for-epirb-nancy-drew-investigates.html

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  34. I remember when this happened. It is SO weird.

    Also, I don't know if you've heard of the podcast My Favorite Murder, but they did an episode on this case.

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  35. That's freaky. . .and sad.

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  36. That is sooooo creepy! Surveillance tapes always have that freaky feel because you see the person moving around in their last hours. I think manic episode. She let that elevator sit open for too long. If being chased, it seems like she'd want to frantically close that thing!

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  37. Oh this is just so sad. It doesn't feel like she's being chased to me.

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  38. Wow! I remember the story when they found her body in the tank but I didn't know this background information. That is so sad!

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  39. She had to put the elevator on hold because the elevator would not wait that long. It looks like she is having a breakdown of some sort and they can feel paranoid. I could see both ways actually. This may end up always a mystery

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  40. So, sad! I think she had a paranoid episode and may thought someone was following her. Maybe she hid in the tank and drown- The whole thing is odd, but she was acting a bit strange~ So, horribly sad

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  41. Unlocked doors in the water tank... Climbing to weird awkward places without her glasses and unable to see... What about security footage from other parts of the hotel? Wouldn't there be cameras to show what is or isn't outside in the hall? Mental illness is a plausible explanation, but also one that is awfully convenient for a bizarre case.

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  42. She does appear to be having some sort of episode, the way she kept pushing the buttons and moving her arms around. Sad case :(

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  43. I've considered investigating this case further, especially since my blog readers still seem interested.

    From my research, she'd been depressed in the past, and that allowed police to write this off as a suicide. There are so many aspects that don't fit with a suicide. Where were her clothes and belongings, for instance? What was with the elevator?

    Personally, I feel she was murdered.

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  44. seems more of a murder to me buddy :(

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  45. That is so weird and totally creepy.

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  46. Now that is a mystery, not what happened to her, but why. You do have to wonder what kind of episode would lead to her making such an elaborate climb.
    Sophie
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles | Wittegen Press | FB3X

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  47. Quite strange. I think this was all a tragic accident.

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  48. They used the water tank murder in "How to get away with Murder".

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  49. These two sites document some of her internet activity-
    http://elisafields.blogspot.com
    http://nouvelle-nouveau.blogspot.com

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