The story of Elisa Lam, the 21-year-old UBC student from Vancouver who’s been missing in Los Angeles since the end of January took a sad, tragic turn yesterday. A maintenance worker at the Cecil Hotel, where Lam was staying, was investigating the run-down hotel’s rooftop tanks in response to complaints about low water pressure when he found her body in one of them. According to The Globe and Mail, each of the tanks has a small, sealed opening, making the extraction of Lam’s body difficult.
“With its low-cost accommodation,” the Globe and Mail article says, “the aging, downtown hotel, close to the city’s Skid Row area, attracts numerous backpackers.” It also attracted the travel agent working on behalf of my employer back in late 2008, who booked me there on a last-minute trip to attend Microsoft’s Professional Developer Conference. I wrote about my experience at the Cecil Hotel in a post tellingly titled A Dump with a Future. The article has been getting a lot of hints lately as readers — many of whom are visiting this Chinese new site — try to find out more about the Cecil Hotel and what sort of place it is.
One of the clues as to what happened to her is surveillance video footage from the elevators, in which the elevator seems to be malfunctioning and Lam is acting strangely, as if being followed. Los Angeles police put this video online in the hope of finding someone who might be able to provide more leads for her whereabouts:
At this point in the investigation, while foul play seems most likely, the police are not ruling out the possibility that Lam’s death may be the result of “a very, very strange accident”. That’s a bit of a longshot, and it’s more likely that given the sketchiness of the Cecil’s neighbourhood, the former is the cause.
I’d like to express my deepest condolences to Ms. Lam’s family.