Missing woman, 21, found dead after 'ghostly' encounter at hotel
The body of 21-year-old Elisa Lam, the Canadian undergraduate who had gone missing during a stay at the allegedly haunted Cecil Hotel on Jan 31, has been found in one of the hotel's four water tanks.
How and where did Elisa Lam die?
Los Angeles robbery-homicide detectives are treating this as a suspicious death for obvious reasons, Police said. Falling into a covered water tank behind a locked door on top of a roof would be an unusual accident.
An autopsy was completed, but the cause of death is deferred pending further examination, assistant chief coroner Ed Winter said Thursday. That may take six to eight weeks.
It will be several weeks before investigators have the toxicology lab report which would show whether Lam had any drugs in her system.
A CCTV camera footage showing the young woman acting strangely in the hotel elevator the night before she went missing is circulating on the Internet. In the video, Lam could be seen pressing buttons for multiple floors in the lift before stepping outside suddenly. She then looks quickly to her left and right before moving her arms around wildly.
Hotel Cecil is known for having been home to serial killers like Richard Ramirez, alias the 'Night Stalker', who was convicted of killing 14 people, as well as Jack Unterweger who committed suicide after being convicted for several murders involving prostitutes. (See full history below next video).
The actual video believed to be of Elisa Lam`s last sighting.
Crime History of Ramirez a.k.a `The Night Stalker`
On April 10, 1984, 9-year-old Mei Leung was found dead in a hotel basement where Ramirez was living at the time. In 2009, Ramirez's DNA was matched to DNA obtained at the 1984 crime scene.
On June 28, 1984, 79-year-old Jennie Vincow was found dead in her apartment. She had been stabbed repeatedly, and her throat was slashed so severely she was almost decapitated.
On February 21, 1985, sisters Christina and Mary Caldwell, aged 58 and 71, were found dead in their home. They each were stabbed dozens of times.
|Ramirez shortly after capture|
On March 27, Ramirez shot Vincent Zazzara, age 64, and his wife Maxine, age 44. Mrs. Zazzara's body was mutilated with several stab wounds and a T-carving on her left breast, and her eyes were gouged out. The autopsy determined that the mutilations were post-mortem. Ramirez left footprints in the flower beds, which the police photographed and cast. This was virtually the only evidence that the police had at the time. Bullets found at the scene were matched to those found at previous attacks, and the police realized a serial killer was on the loose. Vincent and Maxine's bodies were discovered in their Whittier home by their son, Peter.
By this time, a multi-county police investigation was in operation. The law enforcement agencies worked through the month of April with no additional attacks by Ramirez. Two months after killing the Zazarra couple, Ramirez attacked a Chinese couple: Harold Wu, age 66, who was shot in the head, and his wife, Jean Wu, age 63, who was punched, bound, and then violently raped. For unknown reasons, Ramirez decided to let her live. Ramirez's attacks were now in full throttle. He left behind more clues to his identity, and was named 'The Night Stalker' by the media. Survivors of his attacks provided the police with a description of a tall Hispanic man with long dark hair.
On May 29, 1985, Ramirez attacked Malvial Keller, 83, and her disabled sister, Blanche Wolfe, 80, beating each with a hammer. Ramirez attempted to rape Keller, but failed. Using lipstick, he drew pentagrams on Keller's thigh and on the wall in the bedroom. Wolfe survived the attack. The next day, Ruth Wilson, 41, was bound, raped, and sodomized by Ramirez, while her 12-year-old son was locked in a closet. Ramirez slashed Wilson once, and then bound her and her son together, and left.
On June 2, 1985 Edward Wildgans, 29, was shot and killed by Ramirez. His girlfriend was raped several times by Ramirez but survived. From early June through early July, three more women were killed. Two had their throats slit, one was beaten to death, and all three had their homes invaded. On July 5, sixteen-year-old Whitney Bennett survived after being beaten with a tire iron by Ramirez.
On July 7, Linda Fortuna, 63, was attacked and Ramirez tried to rape her, but failed. On July 20, he again struck twice. In Sun Valley he shot and killed a 32-year-old man, Chitat Assawahem, and his wife Sakima, 29, was beaten and forced to perform oral intercourse. Ramirez then collected valuables and proceeded to leave. Later in the same day a Glendale couple, Maxson Kneiding, 66, and his wife Lela, also 66, were shot and their corpses mutilated.
On August 6, Ramirez shot both Christopher Petersen, 38, and his wife, Virginia, 27, in the head. Miraculously, they both survived. On August 8, Ramirez attacked a Diamond Bar couple, fatally shooting Ahmed Zia, 35, before raping, sodomizing, and forcing Zia's wife, Suu Kyi, 28, to perform fellatio on him. The description of their attacker fit the previous ones given for "The Walk-in Killer".
Ramirez then left Los Angeles, and on August 17, he shot to death a 66-year-old man in San Francisco, also shooting and beating his wife. The wife survived her wounds and was able to identify her attacker as "The Walk-in Killer" from police sketches. Since "The Walk-in Killer" no longer fit the modus operandi of the attacker, the news media re-dubbed him the "Night Stalker".
The next big break in the case came on August 24, 1985; Ramirez traveled 50 miles south of Los Angeles to Mission Viejo, and broke into the Mediterranean Village apartment of Bill Carns, 29, and his fiancée, Inez Erickson, 27. Ramirez shot Carns in the head and raped Erickson. He demanded she swear her love for Satan and afterwards, forced her to perform oral intercourse on him. He then tied her and left. Erickson struggled to the window and saw the car Ramirez was driving. She was able to give a description of both Ramirez and his orange Toyota station wagon.
A teenager later identified the car from news reports and wrote down half its license plate number. The stolen car was found on August 28, and police were able to obtain one fingerprint that was on the mirror of the vehicle. The prints belonged to Richard Muñoz Ramirez, who was described as a 25-year-old drifter from Texas with a long rap sheet that included many arrests for traffic and illegal drug violations.
On August 7, 2006 his first round of state appeals ended unsuccessfully when the California Supreme Court upheld his convictions and death sentence. On September 7, 2006, the California Supreme Court denied his request for a rehearing.
Hotel Cecil`s Cursed History:
|Cursed? Hotel Cecil|
The hotel is now a boutique establishment that plays on its access to the nearby Staples Center, but in its glory years it hosted a ghoulish assortment of losers and killers, including "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez and Austrian journalist-cum-murderer Jack Unterweger.
Ramirez, who was found guilty of 14 murders in the 1980s, stayed on the 14th floor for several months in 1985, paying (creepy coincidence alert) $14 a night.
And Unterweger, a writer and prostitute-killer released by Austrian authorities for good behavior and then sent to America on a high-profile journalistic junket, also used the hotel as a base to pick up at least three prostitutes who were later found murdered. The two may have been feeling the vibes from Pauline Otten, who jumped out a window in 1962 and killed a pedestrian, as well as herself, in her fall; or from the still unsolved murder of Goldie Osgood, the "pigeon lady" of Pershing Square, who was found strangled in her Cecil room in 1964. But you have to give the new management some respect: At least they haven't named a drink after Ramirez or done up Unterweger's room in period decor.