Mystery of Elisa Lam Still Haunts Internet Sleuths

Clear-cut to some, others are not convinced we have all the facts
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2015 11:00 AM CDT
Mystery of Elisa Lam Still Haunts Internet Sleuths
Elisa Lam was found in a water tank at the Cecil Hotel days after her disappearance in 2013.   (Los Angeles Police Department)

When 21-year-old Canadian college student Elisa Lam checked into the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, she never checked out. With known bouts of depression that kept her from completing much course work at all in her first three years of college, the Canadian also left behind traces of inner turmoil on her blog and Tumblr that, long after her body was found, left others mourning her in very personal ways in the months (and now years) to follow. So as cut-and-dried as the LA Police Department explained the case to be—Lam was depressed, perhaps experienced a psychotic break, made her way to a water tank on the roof of the hotel, and drowned either by accident or intention—many went looking for other answers, writes Josh Dean at A few details of the case in particular didn't sit well with the many Internet commenters who to this day are trying to solve what they perceive to be a mystery.

Perhaps most famously was what Dean calls the "creepy" and "inexplicable" video footage from the hotel elevator taken just after midnight the day she disappeared; she behaves strangely, looks frightened, waves her arms as if talking to someone outside the elevator, could have been on drugs. She also died during a tuberculosis outbreak in the area, and the name of the diagnostic test is LAM-ELISA, which was too much of a coincidence for some to handle. Theories abounded, and still do. There was a serial killer on the loose. There were ghosts. The hotel itself conspired against her. One blogger who became obsessed with the case before accepting the theory of a manic episode followed by an accidental drowning finally settled on this: "While I had a lot of fun researching the whole thing, the case of Elisa Lam is not a mystery—it’s a tragedy." Click for the full story. (Police at first suspected foul play.)

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