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Cecil Hotel L.A. A History of Murders, Suicides and Unsolved Homicides

Updated on May 8, 2013
Cecil Hotel, Main St. Downtown Los Angeles
Cecil Hotel, Main St. Downtown Los Angeles
9th floor Elevator Hallway
9th floor Elevator Hallway

Brief History

In the heart of bustling downtown Los Angeles, The Cecil Hotel sits on Main St. amidst a row of recently renovated early 20th century buildings. A typical urban working class neighborhood with energy efficient apartments for rent upstairs, restaurants, boutiques and galleries downstairs. An alleyway behind the hotel leads to 7th street and Los Angeles Blvd, where by day wholesalers sell their wares of textiles and electronics to flowers and toys to the public. By dusk the streets empty. Storefronts are now steel grated security doors. The sidewalks once filled with excess inventory and food stands, now barren and apocalyptic. With good reason, even during the day, the merchant district is dotted with streets and alleyways known for drugs, human trafficking and prostitution. Once the sun sets those few streets conquer the 10 square miles that is downtown Los Angeles. There sits the Cecil, plagued with a history of notorious murder mysteries and sudden suicides.

The hotel was built in 1926 as part of a project to modernize the city. The hotel was built on a square of land called the Hellman/Wolfskill lot. Isaia Hellman and Joseph Wolfskill were both large land owners in southern California during the second half of the 19th century, buying the land from the Spanish. Hellman started the first bank in Los Angeles. Wolfskill eventually sold most of his land and bought land in northern California and became the largest supplier of Valencia oranges in the country. There doesn’t seem to be much information about who built the hotel or why it is named the Cecil, in fact the only history on the hotel pops up when the Lopez family purchases it and begins renovations in the 1960s. It was around this time that the murders and suicides began adding up.

Dead Bodies

The first murder mystery took place in 1947 with the discovery of the mutilated body of Elizabeth Short aka the Black Dahlia. Shorts body was found about 8 blocks from the Cecil where she frequented. Her body was severed at the waist and completely drained of blood. The corners of her mouth were carved to her ears. The next death took place in 1954 with Helen Gurnee who jumped from her 7th floor window onto the hotel’s marquis below. In 1962 Julia Moore jumped from her 8th floor room, no suicide note, only a bus ticket and bank book with $1800. A few months later Pauline Otton who was arguing with her estranged husband suddenly jumped out of the 9th floor window after the husband left to get something to eat. In 1964 Goldie Osgood was found in her room stabbed, strangled and raped. The Nightstalker Richard Ramirez called the Cecil his home. In 1984 he murdered 9 year old Mei Leung and left her body at the basement of the Cecil Hotel. The Nightstalker went on to murder 14 victims before his capture. In 1991, convicted murderer turned celebrity, Jack Untergewer stayed at the Cecil under the guise of researching Los Angeles’ red light district for a book he was writing. During his stay he secretly lured prostitutes to his room by telling them to use the fire escape. He strangled Irene Rodriguez, Sherri Ann and Shannon Exely with their bras then disposed of the bodies in the alleyway. If you haven’t caught on yet, there have been over 20 grisly deaths surrounding the Cecil Hotel and mostly female, which brings us to the Cecil’s most recent victim, Elisa Lam. When I first saw the Elisa Lam elevator video released by a stumped LAPD in March 2013, i knew I had to get down there with my team. You can see the final video footage of Mrs Lam here. I also added the video below.

I suggest watching the video before reading the following version of what happened. Some would argue that my version most matches the events of the video. The police have absolutely no clue as to what to make of Mrs Lams strange behavior before she disappeared. In my humble opinion, the Lam video is another documented case of possession. I do believe, the ability for an entity to control and subjugate us is limited. As to the extent of that limitation threshold is dependent on our selves. A person unaware of ghostly phenomenon, may not recognize the conditions or symptoms they are experiencing and allow these factors to influence their behavior. Possession by an entity on a human is still limited to frequency and severity, usually progressively getting worse.

The Breakdown of a Possession

Mrs Lam enters the elevator normally, what she was doing on the 9th floor is a mystery as her room was on the 4th. She presses her floor once, but the elevator door doesn’t shut. She presses them again and again and even tried pressing a different floor, but to no avail. She would give it a few seconds and stands back. She immediately sees or hears something rush past the elevator. Unsure and timid, she inches to the entrance and sticks her head out really fast and looks in both directions. Nothing. She knows what she heard or saw and unsure how to react she backs up to the front corner of the elevator. She musters up a bit of courage and peeks out of the elevator. She knows somebody is there, but doesn't see anyone, she puts one foot out slowly and then jumps out of the elevator making a stomping sound on the tile as if trying to sneak up on someone and scare them. She walks back in the elevator but doesn't feel she has grasp of the situation and steps back outside and to the left. She begins to rub her head and her eyes, something is making her feel disoriented, so much so she re enters the elevator rubbing her eyes and begins pressing the button to her floor, any floor that would make the elevator door close. She presses all the floors with both hands frantically, but nothing will make that elevator door shut. Frustrated she exits the elevator again and stands to the left. Immediately whatever was making her disoriented, now has its hooks in her. She convulses and becomes paralyzed as if being shocked. It enters her body and locks her as he enters every fiber of her flesh contorting her joints as he gains control. She starts wrenching her fingers and hands against each other trying with her last bit of energy to get physical control. The whole process takes less than 30 seconds and leaves Mrs Lam standing normally as if nothing had happened. Mrs. Lam is then seen calmly walking towards the staircase. The elevator doors close a minute later and begin to function normally, opening and closing on every floor. Lam is found two weeks later inside a ¾ full water tank on the roof of the Cecil.

Guests had complained of the water tasting, smelling and looking funny. The maintenance worker went up to the tank to check and found Mrs Lams body. The only access to the roof is the fire escape and the 15th floor roof access door which has a security alarm on it. No alarm had sounded. Mrs Lam didn't have water in her lungs, so the coroner determined she was dead before she was in the tank. If that was true then someone had to access the roof to the water tank. They would have had to carry her body while climbing a vertical fire escape, on the roof then up a small set of steps, over a large bulky set of water pipes, up a ladder, pick the lock to the tank, dispose of her body through an 18 square inch access hatch and then pad lock the hatch to the tank. A true mystery that again has the LAPD stumped; nothing new for the Cecil.

Check out Part 2 of this hub when my team investigates the hotel. A female team member gets attacked causing us leave the hotel at 4 am!

Elisa Lam Elevator video released by LAPD


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