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Some have sensationally dubbed it “the most mysterious case of the 21st century”. Yet, how much do we actually know about Elisa Lam’s bizarre, possibly paranormal-related, death?

In this paranormal documentary, the Paranormal Scholar presents the humanised story of an intelligent and passionate young woman, who perished under mysterious circumstances in early 2013 at the Cecil Hotel of Los Angeles. Although Elisa Lam’s death was described as “accidental” by the police, many have been left unsatisfied in the months and years which followed. Various alternative theories have been put forward. We aim to outline – and where possible – disprove these theories, always providing evidence as we do. What happened in that hotel? Is this a case of true crime, true horror, or a tragic accident?

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We hope to see you in the comments. Discussion is the lifeblood of understanding.

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The Paranormal Scholar does not claim ownership of all the visual extracts featured in this video. The Paranormal Scholar includes such extracts either according to Creative Commons CC0 copyright free, or according to fair usage on the basis of original reportage, commentary and critique.


The following footage has been used according to the Creative Commons Attribution License, via “Free Stock Footage Archive” ( “Pinhole camera” ; “Creepy trees and dark sky” ; Forest Trees and Light

The following footage has been used according to the Creative Commons 3.0. License, via “Setting Sun” by “skymountain” ; “Particle Motion Visualisation_Plexus” by “Joseph2” ; “Fire Department and Rescue Crew” by “BeachFront”

Elevator footage with correct timestamp and speed:

Kay Theng investigates the roof of the Cecil Hotel in March 2013:

Thank you to ‘Horror with Heidi’ for providing select voice-overs:

Select music courtesy of CO.AG music.

“Concentration” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Pensive Piano by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (

32 Responses

  1. The Paranormal Scholar

    CLARIFICATION: The San Bernadino shootings mentioned in the video are not 'The' San Bernadino terrorist attack shootings of 2015. In 2013, from the 3rd to the 12th of Febraury, Christopher Dorner went on a killing spree, targerting police officers and their families, in San Bernadino. This is the case we were referencing. We apologise for any confusion caused, we should have clarified this difference in the video.

  2. govinda gopal

    this is state of the art doco. beautifully paced to never cross into sensationalism. insightful intriguing well researched and respectfully humane.

  3. Alice li

    This story is incredibly fascinating. I did not know about the rectal bleeding, sand like material found on clothes, and the graffiti on the roof top. I strongly feel this was murder. I've spent many years being suicidal and depressed, there is so much intensity and negativity when you're suicidal, in no way is one interested in hiding "evidence" such as her getting naked and then dumping her clothes in with her. That requires thinking, processing and outcome; just makes no sense. There is definitely something odd here, behind all this and I really hope this "crime" is solved. RIP Elisa.

  4. Jeannette Flores

    Very good video. You did her justice. I'm sick of the police blaming her bipolar for her death. She seems level headed. Even if she was depressed, I doubt she would have chosen the method they find her.

  5. Roesch -4- Broward County Sheriff

    The thing that draws me closest to this case is the constant bipolar hoopla. I'm diagnosed bipolar and offended up the azz. And Where's the surveillance footage of Elisa from "The Last Bookstore?" This was an accident.

  6. lilMer

    She was possessed and then sacrificed. For decades that hotel has had murders and suicides and there's a satanic cult that meets there.

  7. Roesch -4- Broward County Sheriff

    Someone with this documentary expertise should do one on Child pornography which is now the second highest paid online business in America taking in three billion annually.

  8. Cold Shower

    did the water get tested for traces of sperm or other peoples dna?

  9. Cold Shower

    why is there no other footage of the cctv, from the entrance or landings? surely a hotel of that size doesn't just have cctv in it's elevators?

  10. SusieQ

    Also it's not really a valid argument, that she didn't have a history of this type of psychotic break. She could have had her first full blown break. She would be in the right age for this to happen.

  11. SusieQ

    She could have had an idea, that she had to hide in the tank. She could have been thinking, that it would be safer without clothes, that could weigh her down to drown. So she took off her clothes, took it with her, so it wouldn't give away her place of hiding. And the lid could have shut close by accident.

  12. LuckyLegz222 luckylegz

    she was chased and MURDERED! we saw her in the Lift, checking to see if anyone was there – then finally the person was there and she was trying to 'reason with the Madman! Its ridiculous to try blame this on her mental health issues!

  13. Sarah Hensen

    signed the petition, took me 4 tries as the page got an error everything I tried.

    really good documentary, really hope the petition helps to reopen the case.


    Very strange. Nasty in fact. Thanks TPS. Cheers. Poor girl. I do not think this was a suicide at all. Not at all.

  15. reandruzzi

    This is a really excellent piece. Thank you so much for putting it together. I signed the petition and subscribed <3

  16. Beth Shadowen

    Since she had sand in her clothes, and blood found in her rectum, why not consider that she was raped or sodomized, then killed and placed in the water tank. Bad neighborhood too

  17. Dennis Gross

    do we need to know the details of her birth? I wanna know what happened in the hotel

  18. Humidor 2016

    Really the drones who comment about dislikes and likes……….this isnt about your shallow regard for likes and dislikes. This is and always will be about why and how a young woman died. Most likely afraid and alone. You f$%cken people make me sick.

  19. Emma OConnor

    Excellent (& non sensationalised) reporting of a tragic death. Thanks

  20. thearchitect27

    What is fascinating about this unsolved case are the overarching socio-economic problems that it showcases, ranging from growing income inequality that results in such mass homelessness to America's instant gratification, substance-abuse culture, not to mention a decline in police training and the influence of pharmaceutical corporations to keep people hooked on drugs to increase profits. Any rational human being can understand that taking four prescription drugs, for whatever psychological problems, can certainly result in unintended consequences. Additionally, throw out all the paranormal activity or alien conspiracy hypotheses, because we live in a world of science and facts! I think the LAPD is definitely covering up for someone, because no detective on any police force on this planet can miss an entire minute of an elevator footage without providing a reasonable explanation, which the LAPD have yet to provide. Next, water is an excellent solvent, which means any additional drugs in her system for that long of a period, about two weeks, may have been dissolved in the water she was found floating in. Combine this smorgasbord of chemicals with even an appreciable amount of alcohol and you can definitely get a better explanation of this so-called elevator ritual game! Now, since hotel residents are constantly changing, the killer might have left the scene of the crime in a matter of hours. But I believe that at the precise time of her murder, which I will proclaim it was, every single person in the hotel was a suspect. Since the Youtuber's video demonstrates how easily accessible the rooftop of this hotel is, it can be deduced that the killer did not have to be a hotel employee. What would have been the motive of the killer to take the life of a foreigner visiting the United States…?

  21. Zoë Rae

    I'm confused how the San Bernardino shooting is mentioned in this as a distraction for the police even though it happened nearly 3 years later than Elisa's disappearance

  22. Del Cee

    The Cecil Hotel closed on September 2015. It was taken over by a NY Hotelier with trendy NYC based hotels. They are turning this into an upscale condo location targeting young wealthies.

  23. Caitlin Emilie

    absolutely Brilliantly put together! Full of non bias facts and information. Seeing this tragedy in a less supernatural light and more realistic was really good. My heart goes out to her loved ones.

  24. Kathy C

    I can't imagine she could lift the tank lid on her own. However, she could have fallen on the ground of the roof in her clothes, dirtying them. And since people used the water and found it dirty, the tank may have been full enough for her to reach the lid from inside, theoretically, and then was drained as people drank it.

  25. culversketch

    This was a very good presentation, and thank you for taking the time to research this case in such a thorough manner. I learned things watching it that I hadn't known before.


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