I Watched the Elisa Lam Documentary

I first learned about the Cecil Hotel a few months ago. Despite the horror that surrounds the building, I wanted to know more. My curiosity got the better of me and I spent hours reading about the hotel's almost 100 year history. When I found out that Netflix had released a documentary about the Elisa Lam case that took place at the Cecil, my interest was piqued all over again. 

The Cecil Hotel, located in Los Angeles, was built in the early 1920s. Initially, it was meant to be a luxurious building; however, the events of the Great Depression brought crime to downtown LA and subsequently the Cecil. The hotel became a hotbed for prostitution, drug usage, and even murder. Death became a common trend at the hotel, with the residents passing away from overdoses, stabbings, and most commonly, suicide. So many people took their lives at the hotel that it was often called "The Suicide." The Cecil now has a tainted reputation within the Los Angeles community. Yet, leading up to Elisa Lam's disappearance, tourists coming to the city had no idea of the horror that happened at the Cecil. Its cheap overnight rates made it seem like an ideal place for a traveler to stay. Those hotel guests would come to find that this was not the case.

Elisa Lam was a 21-year-old Canadian college student. One of her major goals in life was to travel, as she wanted to see the world. In early 2013, she embarked on a trip to California that started in San Diego and was meant to end in San Francisco. Unfortunately, her trip will remain forever unfinished, as she checked into the Cecil Hotel upon arriving in Los Angeles and never checked out. Her family reported her missing, and almost 20 days after her disappearance, her body was found floating in the hotel's rooftop water tanks.

I'm a true crime fan, but I've never had a strong connection to a case. Elisa's story is different. While watching the documentary, I realized that Elisa was similar to many people I know, including myself. She loved social media, especially Tumblr, and used it as a place to share her innermost thoughts. She had an obsession with reading, especially when it came to the Harry Potter series, as well as The Great Gatsby. Elisa said on her Tumblr that she wanted more from life than to simply work a desk job. She was social and wanted to get to know more people. More importantly, she was on a quest to get to know herself. The fact that such a vibrant young woman's life was cut so short is incredibly sad. I kept picturing her as one of my friends, making this case even more emotional. I am not alone though. The Netflix documentary highlighted that many young people felt a connection to Elisa's devastating case. It's haunting because it could have been any one of us.