Elisa Lam died a horrible and tragic death, alone and far away from home, but what are the top theories on what happened to her?
Her mysterious disappearance is the subject of an upcoming Netflix docu-series.
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel will air in February.
But what are the top theories surrounding how she died and why?
Here’s everything you need to know!
What happened to Elisa Lam?
Young Canadian student Elisa Lam arrived in LA on January 26 2013 while travelling.
She subsequently checked into the seedy Cecil Hotel.
However, she did not check out as scheduled on January 31 2013.
Her parents called the Los Angeles Police Department, who launched a missing persons investigation.
Tragically, a maintenance worker found her naked body on the morning of February 19.
The 21-year-old was floating in one of four 1,000-gallon water tanks on the roof.
What are the top Elisa Lam theories?
On February 21 2013, the LA coroner’s office issued a finding of accidental drowning.
Her bipolar disorder was a significant factor, according to the report.
Most noteworthy, there was no evidence of physical trauma, sexual assault or suicide.
Theory one: Elisa was murdered
Elisa appears to be looking behind her in CCTV footage of her last minutes alive (see below).
She hides in the corner of the lift as if being followed.
But no one follows her in.
Others question how the petite young woman could have got into the tank in the first place – the tanks are huge, all four are four-by-eight-foot.
The hotel had a bad reputation and had housed rapists and serial killers before.
Theory two: Elisa was on hallucinogenic drugs
In the same video of Elisa in the lift, taken on February 1 2013, the student is acting strangely.
She walks into a lift in the hotel, wearing a red hoodie and presses lots of buttons.
As a result of her strange behaviour, the video is unsettling to watch.
The coroner’s report disputes this.
Theory three: She died by suicide
Elisa was on medication for bipolar disorder and depression.
However, she had no history of suicidal ideations or attempts, according to her family.
Elisa discussed her struggle with mental illness in a blog called Ether Fields.
In a January 2012 post, she described a recent relapse at the start of the school term.
The Cecil Hotel’s lawyer would later describe her behaviour as “odd”.
Some believe she had a psychotic episode, which led to her taking her own life.
According to Elisa’s autopsy, she had only taken her prescribed stimulant medications but neither of her stabilizers.
This may have led to a manic episode, which can cause some bipolar sufferers to experience hallucinations or psychosis.
Other Elisa Lam theories
Elisa was playing the Korean elevator game, say some.
This is a ritual of pressing buttons on a lift in a certain order to reach another dimension.
The hotel altered the CCTV video prior to its release, believe others.
Some commented on the similarities between Elisa’s death and the 2005 horror film Dark Water.
In the film, a mother and daughter move into a rundown apartment building.
A dysfunctional elevator and discoloured water gushing from the building’s faucets eventually lead them to the building’s rooftop water tank.
They find the body of a girl who had been reported missing from the building a year earlier.
Some theories believe the paranormal was involved.
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel on Netflix
The new Netflix Elisa Lam documentary series will investigate infamous crime scene locations.
The first series will focus on the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
The hotel is infamous for being a hiding place for criminals, including Richard Ramirez.
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel airs from Wednesday February 10 at 8am on Netflix.
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