This week’s Nightmare Fuel looks at the mysterious case of Elisa Lam. Lam was a twenty-one year old Canadian college student on a trip through California that included a stopover in Los Angeles. On January 31st, 2013, an elevator security camera in her hotel, the Stay on Main, filmed the student enter and press multiple floor buttons. When the elevator doors didn’t close after a few seconds, Elisa stuck her head into the hallway and looked to her left and right in a quick turn of her head. Seeing nothing out there, she backed up to the middle of the elevator car before pressing her back against the wall with the buttons. Throughout her entire time with the elevator, the doors didn’t close and her behavior became more erratic. Eventually she is seen walking out of sight of the camera, and the elevator doors close. As the car stops on each floor, the shiny doors open and close just like normal.
The video itself might seem a little creepy to some and strange to others, but that isn’t where the story ends. A massive search involving the FBI begins at the request of Elisa’s parents, but nothing was found. A week after her last conversation with her parents, the video is released and becomes viral. As popular as it is, the footage doesn’t help in finding the missing student.
Around February 19th, 2013, the hotel sends a maintenance worker to the water tanks on top of the hotel’s roof after guest complaints about the low pressure, discoloration, and oddly tasting water. Inside the tank he found the naked decomposing body of Elisa Lam with her clothing and personal effects floating next to her. Her death is ruled an accident, although some people point the cause finger at the fact that she was bipolar or may have been under the influence or some other illicit drug. What is never completely answered is how she wound up in the water tank with the unhinged lid closed behind her.
While she is gone from the land of the living, the bizarre circumstances of her death and its influence is still seen. Some people have noted the similarities between the case and the 2005 horror movie Dark Water, and there are a slew of movies and television series that have used the case in their plots including Castle and the latest season of American Horror Story. As strange as this story is, it is not the only strange thing about the Stay on Main, also known as the Cecil Hotel, but that is fuel for another episode.