Back in February of 2013 a college student at the University of British Columbia by the name of Elisa Lam was temporarily taking up residence at the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles when she mysteriously vanished. Left behind were the young woman’s possessions such as a wallet and her ID. All investigators had to go on was a puzzling – and chilling- clip of security footage that showed Elisa in the hotel elevator, nervously peeking out as if someone were stalking her through the hallways. After timidly poking her head out through the elevator door, Lam quickly ducks into the elevator as if she had caught a glimpse of something…not good. Shortly after this footage was recorded, she vanished only to be discovered a short time later, her body stuffed into a water tank on top of the Cecil.
The mystery of Lisa Lam’s demise (Was it suicide? Murder? Something paranormal?) has been having something of a moment lately with a recent investigation by the popular Travel Channel show Ghost Adventures and now – according to Variety – adding to the growing material on the case will be an upcoming Netflix docuseries that will attempt to finally answer the question of what exactly happened to Lam.
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel is a four part docuseries set to premiere on Netflix this February 10 and is directed and executive produced by Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills). The acclaimed filmmaker has set out to leave no stone unturned in this baffling case, interviewing scores of people in the process including hotel employees, people staying at the hotel at the time of Lam’s vanishing and, most compellingly, some of the investigators who actually worked this case. Also included in the series will be a deep dive into the disturbing history of the Cecil Hotel which has long had a history of untimely or unusual deaths and which, at one point, was even the home of more than one serial killer.
In a press release touting the new docuseries, Berlinger said that “As a true crime documentarian, I was fascinated in 2013 when the elevator video of Elisa Lam went viral and legions of amateur detectives used the internet to try to solve the mystery of what happened to her, a 21-year old Canadian tourist on her first trip to Los Angeles. So, when journalist Josh Dean, who is also a producer on the project, brought us his research into this case, we realized there was an opportunity to do something different by not just telling the story of Elisa’s disappearance, but to create a series that explores a particular location’s role in encouraging or abetting crime – or the perception thereof.”
This is genuinely a disturbing case. Here’s to getting – at long last – some answers and closure on a very dark tragedy.