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The death of Elisa Lam has raised questions ever since 2013 when it occurred, but the case has recently resurfaced due to social media platform TikTok, and Netflix’s documentary titled, “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel” first released in February. 

Elisa was a 21-year-old college student when she first began her stay at the Cecil Hotel. The hotel is not only in a semi-dangerous area, located very close to Los Angeles’ Skid Row, but it also has a long history of terrible and twisted events, with a long-winded reputation of murder, suicide, and violence-related activities. 

This reputation only furthered the conspiracy that shrouds the death of Elisa Lam. Her body was found in the hotel’s water tank on the roof after maintenance workers received complaints of dark water and low water pressure.

However, the story is not simple, for it is largely covered in doubt. Five days before her body was found, a questionable and off-putting video of Elisa was released and has recently become viral again. 

In the video, Elisa is seen exiting and entering an elevator repeatedly, ducking her head in and out, and hiding on an elevator wall closest to the hallway. She could be speaking to someone, but there is no audio on the footage, so nobody can be sure. 

Elisa was, at the time, on medication for bipolar disorder, so some believe that this was a tragedy that struck due in part to her mental illness. Some others, however, have argued that there could have been paranormal activity as a result of the long rap-sheet of violence that had taken place previously. 

The autopsy report took several months to come to the conclusion that foul play was not suspected, but some are not so sure due to the manner of Elisa’s body when she was found, nor how long it took the coroner’s office to determine the cause of death. 

In all, it is most definitely interesting to dig into conspiracy theories and analyze the footage. But above all else, it is incredibly important that theorists and other onlookers remember that Elisa Lam was a real person, with a real family, and real friends. Her life is more than just this tragedy, and she should not be reduced to such. When looking into her story, it is important to do so with respect to her life and those who have loved her.

Even though Elisa has passed on, her memory has not. You can watch the documentary here.

Taylor Starr

St. John's '24

Taylor Starr is a Biomedical Sciences major who draws much of her writing inspiration from the idea of sharing information & inspiring change, as well as to pursue personal passions.
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