22 Jun

Unsolved: The Sinister death of Elisa Lam

Sara Javed

Elisa Lam, known by her Cantonese name, Lam Ho Yi, was a Canadian student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. In 2013, the guests staying at Hotel Cecil complained about the water supply and contaminations, causing the hotel management to investigate and pry open the tanks. “Wait; how is this connected to Elisa Lam?” you might be thinking. Well, when the tanks were opened, Elisa’s body was found floating in the water for more than three weeks.

Elisa would have had to climb out of a window and onto the fire escape, or through a locked and alarmed rooftop door. Is it likely she could have climbed out a window, up a fire escape, up a 10-foot tank, and opened and then closed a 20-pound hatch behind her? That is only possible either if she had superhuman strength, or she was being followed. Now, with her bizarre disappearance there have been several theories about what could have happened to her, which I will move onto, but before that I will discuss her medical history in detail.

An autopsy & toxicology report published by the Department of the Coroner for the City of Los Angeles tells us that Elisa was actually suffering from bipolar disorder (which is a cycling of manic and depressing moods), which is a fact that her family agrees upon. She had been taking medications for her situation but on the day of the alleged ‘accident’, Elisa took at least one antidepressant that day. She had taken her second antidepressant and mood stabilizer recently, but not that day. She had not taken her anti-psychotic recently. She had no alcohol or common illegal drugs in her system. In mania (which includes hallucinations and voices, much like schizophrenia) if a person suffering from bipolar disorder takes anti-depressants alone and in this case, Elisa Lam did this.

Now, moving onto the theories;

The first theory concludes that Elisa had a psychotic episode, and she was having hallucinations. This is proved by a security video footage of her in the elevator, pressing several buttons at once, some more than once until the doors stalled, leaning in and out of the doors and hiding from someone that was not caught on camera. She had a full blown conversation (the words not caught on tape) and then turned left, walking away, so the doors of the elevator closed. Her roommates also confessed that she was ‘acting strange’, so they separated their rooms from hers. But, this theory is not plausible because it is impossible for someone in such a rough state to climb through the fire escape and go onto the roof without causing the alarms on the roof to ring. Additionally, how could she have lifted the twenty pound hatch and jumped inside at the same time? Although people suffering from psychotic episodes display super human strength, this is too far of a shot.

The second theory concludes that Elisa was actually murdered or harassed, thus her frazzled state, however the autopsy showed no signs of trauma.

The third theory is by far, the most interesting one. Hotel Cecil has a notorious history, it was home to serial killer Richard Ramirez (1984-1985), Jack Unterweger Ramirez’s copycat serial killer, the site of an unsolved murder and the last place Black Dahlia aka Elizabeth Short was seen. Numerous people have killed themselves by jumping off the building, thus it is believed that Elisa was haunted by one of these ghosts (most believe its Elizabeth Short) and she committed suicide (or was convinced to do so) in her state of possession.

However, the world may never know what became of Elisa Lam. To this day, this murder, accident or suicide, remains…unsolved.

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