Netflix Crime Scene: Cecil Hotel documentary explores Elisa Lam death

The Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles hides a history of murder and mystery. Now, a new investigation uncovers the hotel’s darkest secrets.

Beyond stained glass windows, Doric columns and marble walls of the Cecil Hotel lies a history of murder and mystery.

Since it opened nearly a century ago the hotel has been home to two serial killers, witnessed numerous suicides and gained a reputation as a den of vice.

And the hotel, nicknamed “Los Angeles’ most deadly” even inspired Season 5 of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story.

That, though, wasn’t what brought the Cecil to international attention.

Eight years ago the disappearance of a 21-year-old female tourist behind its doors became a global mystery.

Now, a new Netflix series will reveal the truth behind the disappearance of Canadian student Elisa Lam at the infamous Los Angeles building.

Could it be connected to the hotel’s dark past?

Disturbing CCTV of missing student and her invisible attacker

Bizarre footage of what was believed to be the last ride of Elisa’s life in the hotel’s lift went viral when it was released in February 2013.

The young Canadian is seen gesticulating to someone as she ducks and dives from landing to lift and back again.

Two weeks after going missing her naked body was found in the water tanks on the roof of the 15 storey building.

Numerous theories have been shared on internet forums about how she came to such a grisly end.

Murder, malevolent spirits, government conspiracies, suicide and illegal drugs have all been put forward as explanations.

A place where addicts, killers, and chancers felt right at home

Now a new Netflix series called Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel has delved into Lam’s death – and the history of the place where she died.

When university student Elisa booked her stay at the Cecil Hotel eight years ago she didn’t realise that it was in a place where drug addicts, killers and sex workers felt right at home.

The 700 room hotel used to be visited by Hollywood stars and producers because it was the first in the city to welcome Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

But it later became home to a much more unsavoury clientele.

Among the killers to have lived in the LA hotel were serial killer Richard Ramirez, who was known as the Nightstalker.

Kim Cooper, who conducts tours of the hotel and area, told The Sun: “The Nightstalker didn’t prey on people here, he just hung out because he fit in.”

Constructed in 1924 for a million dollars the hotel was designed for businessmen visiting California’s boom town.

But when the Great Depression hit in the following decade its customers were down on their luck.

Gradually the Skid Row area in which the huge hotel nestles became a byword for poverty.

Those people who couldn’t afford the hotel’s rates slept in bushes and on nearby pavements, while those who had the cash sometimes used its room for a life of vice.

Kim, who conducts a true crime tour with husband Richard Schave called Hotel Horrors & Main Street Vice, says: “At the Cecil there would be pensioners, single people, drug and alcohol users. It was just where poor people lived.”

Killer who left cups of blood by his victims

Those forced to sleep on the streets fell prey to the Skid Row slasher Vaughn Greenwood between 1964 and 1974, who left cups of blood and rings of salt around some of his 11 victims.

The next known killer to haunt The Cecil was The Nightstalker, who murdered at least 14 people and was known for the disturbing brutality he used against his victims.

A self-described Satanist, Ramirez would often leave Satanic symbols at the scenes of his horrific crimes.

He lived on the top floor of the hotel in 1985 and dumped his bloody clothes in its rubbish bins.

Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger checked into the hotel in 1991 in what Kim believes was an act of ‘homage’ to Ramirez.

Known as the “prison poet”, Unterweger was hailed for his writing while serving a sentence for killing an 18-year-old sex worker. On his release, he went on to kill at least 11 more women across Europe and the US.

Kim says: “He found out that truckers picked up prostitutes as the produce yards while going out on a drive around with the LAPD.

“He represents himself as being there as a journalist.”

Desperate souls who took their own lives

Retired telephone operator ‘Pigeon’ Goldie Osgood, was raped and strangled in her room in 1964.

Kim says: “No one has ever been held responsible for the crime.”

It was more likely, though, that the guests would kill themselves rather than others.

As an end-of-the-line joint, there are many tales of residents leaping to their demise from its windows.

One, Pauline Otton, 27, landed on George Gianinni, 65, in 1962 who was walking on the busy pavement below, killing both of them.

Police called on a daily basis

In 2007 the hotel underwent a significant overhaul in an attempt to lend it a boutique appearance.

But under local laws many of the rooms had to be kept as long term stays for low income tenants – and by the time Elisa Lam checked in, it was still a troubled place.

Amy Price, who was manager at the time of Elisa’s stay in 2013, said: “While I worked there, there were thousands of 911 calls.

“When the maintenance manager gave me a tour he would say ‘suicide in this room,’ ‘guest died there.’

“You just never knew what was going to happen on any given day.”

So when Elisa started acting strangely towards the three girls she was sharing a room with, Amy didn’t think too much about it.

Instead, she asked Elisa, who didn’t know any of the women, to take up a room of her own.

On the day she was due to check out the backpacker went missing.

Because Elisa would ring home to her parents in Vancouver every day, the police took her disappearance seriously.

They had a team of 18 detectives, including sniffer dogs, search from room to room.

When nothing turned up the police released a video clip of Elisa’s last sighting in the hope that someone would come forward with information.

The footage, which showed her gesticulating wildly and hiding in the corners of the lift, went viral.

Was death copycat of a horror movie – or inspired by metal musician?

That interest grew when Elisa’s body was found floating face up in the water tank on February 19 2013.

Web sleuths came up with a series of theories.

One was that it was a copycat murder of the Jennifer Connelly and Tim Roth horror film Dark Water.

In the 2005 movie discoloured water comes out of hotel taps and a little girl falls into the water tank on the top of the building.

There was also speculation that Elisa’s death was linked to an outbreak of Tuberculosis (TB) in Skid Row at that time.

Lam-Elisa is the name for a type of TB test and she studied at Columbia University where there is a tuberculosis research centre.

Various internet commentators cried “Government conspiracy”.

Another much discussed theory was that death metal musician Morbid was behind it, because he’d stayed at the hotel and his lyrics included a girl dying in water.

But Morbid, real name Pablo Vergara, said: “I was in Mexico recording my album at the time she went missing.

“I received death threats every day. There was no escape. I tried to take my life and I woke up in a psychiatric hospital.”

Others suspected evil spirits because Elisa had been seen talking to someone who wasn’t visible.

Kim, who accepts the hotel has ‘unusual energy’, has a more down to earth theory.

She explains: “I think she was in the throes of a delusion.

“If she turned out of the bookstore where she was last seen and went right she would have hit two large pharmacies and would have run into people selling prescription pills.

“One of the things she might have sought out is ambien. The eyes of users are open, but they are in a dream state.”

The pathologist found no illegal drugs in Elisa’s blood stream or signs of violence.

Instead the coroner ruled that her death was the result of an accident, connected to her bipolar disorder.

In the past Elisa had experienced visions as part of her mental health issues and had once been hospitalised.

Amy concludes: “What happened to Elisa was terrible, but it wasn’t because of the hotel.”

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel starts on Netflix on February 10.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished with permission

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Carrie Lam Rings Down the Curtain on Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has delivered the final blows to Hong Kong’s autonomy enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984, the Basic Law or mini-constitution of the territory and summed up in the phrase coined by Deng Xiaoping – One Country Two Systems. The Hong Kong System supposed to last 50 years has succumbed in practice a…

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Hong Kong’s Lam says restoring ‘political system from chaos’ is priority

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam delivers her annual policy address at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China November 25, 2020. REUTERS/Lam Yik

November 26, 2020

By Twinnie Siu and Clare Jim

HONG KONG (Reuters) – The Hong Kong government’s priority is to “restore the political system from chaos”, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Wednesday in her annual policy address, which did not deliver blockbuster steps to boost the economy or ease a housing crisis.

Lam’s lengthy address to the semi-autonomous city’s legislature was delayed by more than a month to accommodate her high-profile trip to Beijing for talks on how China can help with the finance hub’s economic recovery.

But after briefly mentioning the city will contribute to efforts towards further integration of the Greater Bay area, a region that includes Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in China’s Guangdong province, she spent a large part of her address on the need to restore order and protect China’s national security.

The central government’s role in the former British colony has been in the spotlight, in particular with the imposition in June of a security law after months of pro-democracy protests – the most intense in decades – last year.

“In the past year or so, Hong Kong has experienced the most severe political challenges since its return to the motherland,” Lam said. “One of our urgent priorities is to restore … constitutional order and political system from chaos.”

She accused foreign governments and legislatures of increasing interference in Hong Kong’s affairs, which she said were China’s internal affairs, and that their actions were jeopardising national security.

Lam said the government will introduce a bill to “enhance oath-taking” by civil servants and conduct widespread public education “to enhance the understanding of the rule of law”.

The government will launch programmes to educate Hong Kong’s youth, who were at the frontlines of last year’s demonstrations, about respecting China’s national flag and its anthem.

Lam spoke at length about prioritising “moral development” of youth and strengthening “their sense of national identity and awareness of national security.”

Last year’s protests were triggered in part by fears in Hong Kong that the central government was whittling away the freedoms granted when the city returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula.

Lam, the city’s least popular leader since the handover, presented her annual policy address via video last year after some opposition lawmakers disrupted the legislative session, jeering as she started her speech.

She did not face any opposition this year, after pro-democracy lawmakers resigned en masse after four of their colleagues were disqualified after China’s parliament gave city authorities powers to oust lawmakers without court scrutiny.


A plan to build vast artificial islands, estimated to cost at least HK$624 billion ($80.51 billion) — the city’s most expensive infrastructure project — was expected to move further along in the coming year, Lam said.

The plan envisions building up to 400,000 housing units across 1,700 hectares of reclaimed land between Lantau island where the city’s airport is located and the main Hong Kong island. It is backed by powerhouse property developers including New World Development and Henderson Land.

The Lantau Tomorrow Vision was first announced by Lam in her policy address in October 2018, but legislative discussions have been delayed by social unrest. At that time, residents were expected to move into new housing by 2032.

Additionally, Lam said the government will relax investment limits for Real Estate Investment Trusts and remove the double stamp duty for commercial property transactions. The government had no plan to remove stamp duty on residential properties.

Other economic measures included support for an iconic floating restaurant and offering dental treatment support for the elderly.

The protests and later the novel coronavirus pandemic have battered the city’s economy, with full year gross domestic product (GDP) forecast to contract 6.1%.

(Reporting by Twinnie Siu, Donny Kwok, Clare Jim, Anne Marie Roantree; Writing by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Michael Perry and Kim Coghill)

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NRL 2020: Kyle Flanagan, Sydney Roosters, Shane Flanagan, Mitchell Pearce, Trent Robinson, Sam Walker, Lachlan Lam

Shane Flanagan has opened up on the “unwarranted” criticism and cut-throat contract call that left son Kyle “gutted.”

Flanagan’s mixed form for the Roosters in 2020 has seen his place in the side called into question as the club looks to move on from a disappointing semi-finals exit.

The 22-year old was only suiting up for his first year at the club and still trying to feel his way into a side boasting plenty of strike power.

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Preliminary Final

MJ: Dogs will fit Flanagan


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Luke Keary, Roosters halves, Kyle Flanagan, Trent Robinson, Lachlan Lam, Sam Walker, Brad Fittler

Blues coach Brad Fittler believes Trent Robinson faces a dilemma with his halves pairing going forward and may need to switch Luke Keary to halfback.

The Roosters halves pairing of Keary and Kyle Flanagan failed to fire as the Roosters bowed out of the finals in straight sets with a 22-18 loss to the Raiders.

The Roosters also have club legend Adrian Lam’s son Lachlan and prodigious talent Sam Walker on their books next season.

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Fittler believes the Roosters may need go consider moving Keary into the main driver’s seat to take control of the side’s attack.

“What they do with Luke Keary is pretty important, whether he stays five-eighth or goes at halfback,” Fittler said on The Sunday Footy Show.

“There’s Kyle Flanagan obviously, there’s Sam Walker, you’ve got Lachie Lam. That’s going to be a huge decision for Robbo going forward.”

Another former Roosters five-eighth Braith Anasta is not sold on the Keary-Flanagan combination.

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“There’s still a concern and there was at the start of the year about the halves combination with Flanagan and Lam,” Anasta said on Fox League.

“They dropped Flanagan for Lam coming into the side. I was even thinking they may put Lam back into the side heading into this week’s game after Flanagan had been a bit quiet.

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“I think there’s still a bit of uncertainty. I know the season’s over but heading into next year. I don’t think they’re sold on their halves pairing. I don’t.

“I think it’s been an issue for the majority of the year and it’s an area where they need different options.”

However regardless of their finish to the year Fittler was quick to praise the Roosters for being the benchmark of the competition for the last three seasons, despite losing their final three games of 2020.

“I just think they’ve been so incredible,” Fittler said.

“The standard they’ve played the last couple of years … we’ve always spoken about Melbourne raising the standard of play, I think the Roosters have really added to that.”


The boys rate the Sharks and Knights season, review the games from last weekend and try to predict where the games will be won and lost this weekend.

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NRL 2020: Transfer centre, Off contract players, Charlie Staines, Matt Burton, Albert Hopoate, Lachlan Lam, Sydney Roosters

NRL legends Brad Fittler and Andrew Johns had their say on the futures of a number of the league’s best young players who come off-contract at the end of the year.

While there are not many established superstars up for grabs, there is plenty of emerging talent worth pursuing.

According to Fittler and Johns, three in particular who are currently struggling for consistent first-grade footy could already be demanding spots in the NRL and making a name for themselves.

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Round 19

Warriors Fonua-Blake offer


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Canberra Liberals volunteers robbed at gunpoint while putting up corflutes for Ginninderra candidate Kacey Lam


September 09, 2020 13:03:35

Two Canberra Liberals volunteers putting up election signs in Belconnen in the early hours of Tuesday morning have been held up at gunpoint.

The volunteers were erecting roadside corflutes for Liberals candidate Kacey Lam at the intersection of Owen Dixon Drive and Heydon Crescent in the Canberra suburb of Evatt.

A spokesperson for ACT Policing confirmed that, at about 12:15am, police attended “a robbery where a firearm had been produced”.

“The victim and another person were on the side of the road when a white sedan approached them,” ACT Policing said.

“One man exited the vehicle and demanded personal belongings before driving off in a Holden Trax, ACT registration YOG72C.”

The car was found burnt out in Sutton, in NSW, on Tuesday afternoon.

Ms Lam posted on social media about the incident, saying the volunteers were unharmed.

“I’m shocked but what’s most important is that they are okay,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Reported to police and support have been offered.”

Ms Lam said she did not believe the robbery was targeted and urged campaign teams on all sides of politics to stay safe.

“I have always felt safe while campaigning but unfortunately there are some unsavoury people out there,” she said.

“It’s wrong place, wrong time.

“Campaign teams on all sides of politics should be aware.”

Canberra Liberals leader Alistair Coe said the incident was concerning.

“It’s very distressing for the people involved directly, but also indirectly for the broader campaign teams as well,” he said.

“These are the sorts of things you just don’t expect to happen in Canberra.”

Mr Coe said that all political parties have established processes and procedures about best practice for campaigning.

“We’ve reiterated those to all our volunteers to make sure that they’re as well-equipped as possible and that they can identify any risks and threats,” he said.

“The campaign itself will go on as it is, but we’ll make sure that all volunteers are provided with the support that they need.”

Mr Coe also said the party was caring for the two volunteers involved in the incident.

“We want to make sure the people involved are offered as much support as they need to get through this very tough period,” he said.

“The welfare of those volunteers is at our foremost attention.”

Police have asked anyone with information or dash-cam footage to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website. Information can be provided anonymously.

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First posted

September 09, 2020 12:59:46

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