The Bone-Chilling And Mysterious Death Of Elisa Lam

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
August 7, 2017
Last Updated
September 28, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
8 min read
Posted in
Conspiracy Theory Analysis, Unsolved & Unexplained

Although we wrote briefly about this most strange and unsettling case, it is worth looking at in-depth. The naked body of 23-year old Canadian, Elisa Lam, was discovered on 19th February 2013, floating in a sealed water tank almost three weeks after she had seemingly disappeared from the face of the planet. Her death and the events that surround it is one of the most bone-chilling cases of recent times, not least because it remains unsolved.

Picture of Elisa Lam.

Elisa Lam.

The fact that she would choose to spend her last days in the Cecil Hotel – a building with a dark history in its own right – only added more morbidly fascinating elements to the whole affair. And it is there, we will start our look at this unsettling series of events.

Before we look at that though, check out the video below. It is one of the original news broadcasts at the time of the discovery of Elisa’s lifeless body.

The Cecil Hotel’s Dark Past

The hotel where Elisa would spend her last days [1] has a dark past all of its own. As well as having a reputation for attracting low-level criminals and prostitutes, at least two serial killers, Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger, called the hotel home during their killing sprees in 1985 and 1991 respectively.

There have been numerous suicides from various floors of the Cecil Hotel, and the last known sighting of the infamous Black Dahlia, Elizabeth Short, was at this most mysterious of buildings before the discovery of her body, severed in two in downtown Los Angeles. Add to this a plethora of reports of paranormal activity, and it is easy to see why it casts such a shadow.

A picture of the Cecil Hotel from outside, looking up

Cecil Hotel.

In fact, many who have looked at the case, have questioned why Lam would have opted to stay at this particular hotel, given there were better, and cheaper options available, in better parts of Los Angeles no less. Whatever the reason, on 19th February 2013, she became the latest morbid account with a connection to the Cecil Hotel.

Check out the video below that looks at the Cecil Hotel in a little more detail.

Discovery Of Elisa’s Body

Elisa’s body was found inside a sealed water tank [2] – one with such a heavy lid, that initial inspection of the scene by detectives led them to doubt she would have been able to get into the tank and seal it shut of her own accord, even if she had wanted to. It would have in all likeliness have even been a struggle for her to open the heavy top of the tank.

It would surely suggest then, that someone was responsible for her gaining access to the tower, and to having sealed the heavy duty top. As obvious as that seems, no evidence suggests even the slightest possibility who this might have been.

The events of Elisa’s death were seemingly “foreseen” in the movie, “Dark Waters”, released almost a decade earlier in 2005.

The story follows a mother and her young daughter who move into a rundown apartment block to be closer to a preferred school. Along with paranormal activity around the young daughter, their apartment is subject to a flood by a strange dark water, and there is an eventual discovery of a young girl’s body in the water tank on top of the apartment block.

In reality, in the case of Elisa Lam, many of the hotel’s residents [3] – before they had any idea that Lam’s body was in one of the water tanks on top of the hotel – began to complain of the drinking water “not tasting right!” Other reports stated their shower water was considerably darker, almost black, in the run up to the discovery of Lam’s body.

The video below is a short news excerpt regarding this.

The LAPD Elevator Footage

The last known footage of Elisa Lam is a four-minute video recorded by a security camera in an elevator of the Cecil Hotel. The LAPD would make this video available to the public.

It is both bizarre and unsettling to watch, not least because of Lam’s strange behavior. She seemingly presses several buttons on the dashboard, and at one point appears to back away from an apparent invisible presence entering the elevator. At one point she even leaves the elevator to quietly “peek” down the hall, as if she is looking for someone. These elements of the footage gave birth the theories that she was playing the aforementioned Elevator Game.

At another point in the video, Lam moves her arms in an “awkward” way, as well as her body appearing to contort a little unnaturally. Some people saw this is signs of possession and so spawned those theories into the public arena.

There was another theory that emerged from this footage, however. One that Lam’s own tweets and blogs on social media also made reference to.

You can check out the full released footage from the LAPD below.

The Elevator Game

One of the more bizarre theories as to how Elisa met her untimely end is that she was playing The Elevator Game [4] – a bizarre ritual type craze that would first become popular in many regions of the far east, in particular, Korea.

As we will look at shortly, the final known piece of footage of Elisa Lam was a strange four-minute video released by Los Angeles Police Department. It was from this that connections to the Elevator Game (and other theories) would grow.

The basics of the “game” – which has to be “played” in a building with at least 10 floors – involves the selection of a specific sequence of floors, including stepping out and back on to the elevator at predetermined places in the game. Halfway through the sequence, a strange “guide” will appear. The player is not to interact with this presence, or even acknowledge it, but they must allow it enter the elevator. Eventually, you will open the elevator doors to another dimension – one with a “heavy atmosphere” and where electronic devices do not work.

To get back, the player must repeat the sequence in reverse order. Staying too long will cause you to lose consciousness, and then you will awake in your dimension – somewhere. Might Elisa have arrived back in this dimension, unconscious in the water tank?

The video below looks at the Elevator game in a little more detail, and how it relates to the tragic Elisa Lam.

Demonic Possession Or Invisible Captors?

Some theories state that an evil force possessed Elisa in the last days of her life, and the dark past of the Cecil Hotel only serves to play on these claims. Again, like theories suggesting she had played The Elevator Game, the reasons were largely based on the footage released by LAPD as part of the appeal to find her.

The way she moved at points appeared as though she was not fully in control of her own movements. There were also times when her arms would make unusual movements – appearing as though forced. She would also act erratic – frantic one second, and calm and “zombie-like” the next.

The footage itself is now widely available online and is perhaps four of the most unsettling minutes you are likely to view, and certainly a point worth examining fully, as we will do next.

During Lam’s stay at the Cecil Hotel, its records show that one of the rooms was rented under the name “The Invisible Light Company”. [5] One of the technologies they were experimenting with was cloaking devices!

An article in 2013 recent article in the news speaks of how a Canadian company had won a contract to work on such cloaking devices. Elisa even sent a tweet about this contract. She also sent several tweets about the activities of The Invisible Light Company she had witnessed. Had she been “poking her nose” where some felt it didn’t belong? Imagine the technology required for such a device that could make people invisible. Would it be worth killing for in order to protect its secrets?

Some believed the moments in the LAPD elevator footage was not an act of possession or a bizarre Internet game. Some claimed it was footage showing Elisa under apprehension by invisible enforcers. The moment when her arms go stiff and her hand pointing straight down, gives Elisa the appearance someone may – if you can imagine a person on each side of her – have been “restraining” her.

The video below looks at the theories of “invisibility cloaks” a little further.

Phone/Device Continues To Send Messages/Update Blog

Both while she was missing, and then for some weeks after, Elisa’s phone continued to send messages and updates to social media.

While this is still a mystery as to why this happened, many believe it is probable that Elisa had “pre-set” the updates to appear – particularly as she was keeping an active blog of her “west coast adventure”. Others, however, have proposed that her phone may indeed have been in the possession of the person who was responsible for her death, and the messages an attempt of goading the police.

Like many other aspects of her death, it only really serves to cloudy the waters even more, while providing no solid answers.

There was, in the immediate aftermath of Lam’s disappearance, a general feeling that LAPD were conducting the investigation in a “bumbling” and even secretive manner. [6] When it became clear that parts of the elevator footage had been edited, more suspicion fell upon them from parts of the Los Angeles community and Lam’s family and friends.

Their conduct in searching the hotel would also be subject to widespread criticism, and in retrospect, it is likely they simply missed Lam’s body in the water tank following extensive searches with police dogs throughout the hotel and its roof. The release of information to the public following the discovery of Lam’s body also raised further eyebrows as to its ambiguity. There were even claims from some private researchers into the case that there was an effort to “mislead the public” regarding the circumstances of Lam’s disappearance and death.

If there was any type of cover-up involving the LAPD, then the final point on this list may explain why they would have done so.

Before we look at that though, check out the video below. It recaps the details of the mysterious death of Elisa Lam.

The Lam Elisa Kits Conspiracy

One of the strangest links, and again one in all likelihood is purely bizarre coincidence, was the bizarre outbreak of TB within the Los Angeles community, with over 4,000 eventually confirmed cases. The name of the testing kits used to determine the presence of the disease? LAM ELISA kits.

No explanation is available for this bizarre coincidence, but some researchers and investigators claim that Lam was subject to purposeful infection with TB, murdered and then her body placed in the water tank – which also supplied drinking and shower water to guests in the hotel. The purpose? Purely to test if TB could be passed on in this way and which people it would likely affect.

Might this explain the editing of certain parts of the LAPD elevator footage? Or why, despite police dogs being on the roof of the Cecil Hotel as part of the initial search, they seemingly “missed” the likely presence of Lam’s body? Missed, or instructed to overlook until a predetermined time?

If there is any truth in this particular conspiracy, then the people that have the “authority” to carry out such an “experiment” answer to people a lot higher up the command chain than the LAPD.

Whether Elisa Lam was an unfortunate victim of murder, or she ended her own life, or even that her death is the result of some government conspiracy or even the result of traveling to other dimensions, her death continues to baffle all who investigate it.

Check out the video below, “Elisa: The Documentary”. It looks at the details of the case again and some of the theories surrounding it.


1 Hotel with corpse in water tank has notorious past, Alan Duke, CNN, February 23rd, 2013
2 Elisa Lam Drowned in a Water Tank Three Years Ago, but the Obsession with Her Death Lives On, Jennifer Swann, Vice, October 27th, 2015
3 More Tests for Water Tank Corpse, CNN Newsroom Transcripts, February 22nd, 2013
4 The Elevator Game and the BONE-CHILLING DEATH of Elisa Lam, James St. James, World of Wonder, March 21st, 2014
5 Quantum Stealth Invisibility Cloak, From Canada’s Hyperstealth Biotechnology, Gets Pentagon Backing, The Huffington Post, December 19th, 2012
6 What Happened to Elisa Lam?, Kickstarter

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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