History or Hoax : The Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam

History or Hoax : The Mysterious  Death of Elisa Lam

Caroline Dew, Reporter, Social Media Manager, and Columnist

There’s something intriguing about infamous crime cases. Serial killers are the topic of hundreds of documentaries, books, and articles. Prolific murder cases have been known to catch international attention. Shows such as Dateline and Cold Cases cover many types of crimes, including unsolved murders and deaths. These are some of the most interesting cases of all, because they are shrouded in mystery. One well known ‘murder’ case that has yet to be solved, is that of Elisa Lam. Elisa Lam, born April 30 1991, was a student at a college in Canada. She was reported missing from the hotel that she was staying at, on January 31, 2013. On February 13, 2013, she was found dead in a water tank at the same hotel.


Elisa Lam was staying at the Hotel Cecil in Los Angeles, near downtown’s Skid Row. She was originally checked into a join room, but after her roommates complained of what would later be described as ‘odd behavior’, she was moved into a room of her own.


Perhaps one of the reasons that this is such a well known case, is because of the disturbing ‘elevator video’. After Lam was reported missing by her parents, police began searching for her as a missing person. In an attempt to help the general public identify her, police released some of the last security camera footage of her alive. In the security camera footage, Lam is scene wearing a red jacket, shorts, and flip flops. The particular angle of the camera allows some of the hallway to be seen along with the elevator. Elisa is seen walking into the elevator, pushing the buttons for several floors, and backing into the wall. When the door does not close, Elisa steps forwards and looks into the hallway so that her head is poking out of the elevator, looks from one side to the other, and backs back into the back wall of the elevator. After a few minutes of obviously strange behavior, Elisa steps into the hallway, and begins moving her hands in an odd way. Some describe her as looking ‘possessed’, if that helps you picture how she was moving. This video is watchable on youtube and many other sources. In the video, the time stamp is obscured.


Why was she behaving so oddly in the video? Body language specialists have examined her behavior and said that her body language was similar to that of someone who was under the influence of the drug, ecstasy. Other theories include that she was trying to do the ‘elevator challenge’, an alleged way to go to a different dimension. One of the most well known theories, is that of her having a psychotic episode. It was revealed that she had Bipolar Personality Disorder, so this theory can not be ruled out.


Two weeks after she was reported missing, Elisa was found dead and naked in a water tank, after guests complained about low water pressure. Several questions remain. Was this a suicide? And if so, what were Elisa’s motives? She didn’t appear to have motives for suicide. Another question that remains is relating to the elevator clip. Was someone chasing her? Was she murdered? How did she get into the water tank in the first place? The coroner’s stated her official cause of death was accidental drowning, with bipolar disorders a significant factor. What truly happened to Elisa Lam?