What REALLY happened to Elisa Lam? The student, 21, was found dead in an LA hotel water tank… but no one knows how she got there

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IT is one of the most chilling mysteries of all time.

Elisa Lam, from Vancouver, Canada, had been travelling along the West Coast of America when she disappeared on January 31, 2013.

 Elisa Lam was travelling alone around America when she mysteriously disappeared in 2013

AP:Associated Press
Elisa Lam was travelling alone around America when she mysteriously disappeared in 2013

The 21-year-old student’s parents alerted the Los Angeles Police Department after they didn’t receive a daily phone call from their daughter – behaviour they said was unusual.

Elisa was due to check out of the Cecil Hotel that day, a location notorious for murders, suicides and paranormal activity.

Katie Orphan, a manager of a nearby bookstore, was one of the last people to see her alive.

“She was outgoing, very lively, very friendly,” while getting gifts to take home to her family, she told CNN.

“[She was] talking about what book she was getting and whether or not what she was getting would be too heavy for her to carry around as she travelled.”

In a bid to help find Elisa, cops released a surveillance video that showed her in a lift.

 Security footage released by cops shows the student acting bizarrely in a lift

Handout
Security footage released by cops shows the student acting bizarrely in a lift
 Elisa was seen cowering in the cover of the elevator after studying the lift buttons

Handout
Elisa was seen cowering in the cover of the elevator after studying the lift buttons

In the clip, which has since been viewed thousands of times on YouTube, Elisa steps into the elevator, studies the buttons and then cowers in the corner.

As the doors ping open, she leaps up and flips her head frantically in both directions, as if someone was chasing her. Nobody else can be seen.

Midway through the video, Elisa frantically walks out into the hallway and gesticulates with her hands.

Many viewers reported that the security footage was unsettling.

 Firefighters work to remove a body found inside a water tank on the rooftop of Hotel Cecil in Los Angeles

Reuters
Firefighters work to remove a body found inside a water tank on the rooftop of Hotel Cecil in Los Angeles

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Nineteen days later, residents at the hotel complained about strange tasting, black water.

Staff checked the water tank on the alarmed, secured rooftop and found Elisa’s partly decomposed, naked body floating face up.

Her clothing was in the water near her coated with a “sand-like particulate”.

Her watch and room key were also found with her.

It took the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office four months to release the autopsy report.

Elisa Lam’s​ mysterious death at LA’s notorious Cecil Hotel remains unsolved ​

It concluded Elisa’s death was an accident. Coroners found no evidence of physical trauma, nor was there any alcohol or substances in her system.

Elisa had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression, for which she was on medication.

Some have suggested her death could have come after a bipolar episode.

Police ruled her death accidental, but this explanation has not been satisfactory for followers of the case.

 The Cecil Hotel was notorious for murders, suicides and paranormal activity

AP:Associated Press
The Cecil Hotel was notorious for murders, suicides and paranormal activity
 Firefighters pictured leaving the hotel after discovering the body of Elisa

Reuters
Firefighters pictured leaving the hotel after discovering the body of Elisa

Many have argued it would have been impossible for Elisa to get inside the tank, which was kept under very secure measures, and close the heavy lid on herself.

Some have also argued the CCTV has been tampered with as the time-stamp is obscured, parts are slowed down and nearly a minute has been removed mid-video.

The case eerily echoes the plot of 2005 horror movie Dark Water, which documents the death of a woman whose body is found in a hotel water tank after guests complain about black water.

In a sinister twist Elisa’s blog continued to update for months after her death and her phone was never found.

 Elisa, centre, pictured on her graduation day with friends and family

Facebook
Elisa, centre, pictured on her graduation day with friends and family

Suggestions as to the cause of the mystery range from government assassination and accidental drowning to paranormal activity – some believed she travelled to another dimension in the lift.

Meanwhile, has a British author finally solved America’s most grisly murder – where the ‘Black Dahlia’ Hollywood starlet was found naked, chopped in half and drained of blood?

Want to read more about unsolved cases?

This is the terrifying mystery of the child found in a cardboard box… whose identity remains unknown 60 years later.

And here are Britain’s most notorious murders that have left cops baffled.

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