The tourist's nude body was discovered in the hotel’s rooftop water tank on Feb. 19, 2013 

By Christine Pelisek
February 09, 2021 11:01 AM
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Elisa Lam
| Credit: LAPD

The 2013 surveillance video was strikingly odd. 

Canadian college student Elisa Lam was seen cautiously stepping in and out of an elevator in downtown Los Angeles' Cecil Hotel, pressing multiple buttons for multiple floors, before she started to wave her hand outside the elevator and walked away. 

Lam, who lived in Vancouver, British Columbia, had come to Los Angeles to sightsee. She vanished just one day after she arrived at the Cecil Hotel on Jan. 31.  

the Cecil Hotel
| Credit: Nick Ut/AP/Shutterstock

On Feb. 19, the 21-year-old student's nude body was found by a maintenance worker in the hotel's eight-foot water tank on the roof, after hotel guests complained about low water pressure. The area where Lam was found was restricted and guests were not allowed there.

Lam's death, and the other mysteries surrounding the Cecil Hotel, are the focus of an episode of the new Netflix documentary series Crime Scene, directed by Joe Berlinger of Conversations with a Killer: the Ted Bundy Tapes and Paradise Lost.

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel will be released on Feb. 10; watch an exclusive clip below.

Lam's case ignited a media frenzy and mobilized a slew of internet sleuths desperate to discover what happened to her. Her death was later ruled an accidental drowning, but that hasn't quelled the endless speculation about how she was able to get inside the tank -- and whether she had help. 

Lam, who suffered from bipolar disorder, is the last known casualty of the Cecil Hotel, which was built in the 1920's near LA's downtown Skid Row and inspired a season of American Horror Story with Lady Gaga.

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Numerous murders and suicides allegedly occurred there, and it was, for a short period of time, the home of serial killer Richard Ramirez, also known as the Night Stalker.

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel will be released on Netflix on Feb. 10.