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Horror Stories and Crime Scenes at Hotel Cecil, LA

Hotel Cecil

The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, a recent Netflix series, delves into all the events behind Elisa Lam’s sad demise. There seems to be a lot to be furious about in that tragedy, however, the hotel had a shady past long before she stepped foot inside. The four-part docuseries delves into all of the possibilities behind the young Canadian’s death at the L.A. hotel, as well as a glimpse inside the hotel’s dark background, and oh my goodness, it’s WILD. 

The Cecil Hotel is spooky as hell, and that it has seen more deaths (including plenty of murders!!) than just about any hotel should. One should not forget about all of the other dubious guests who are said to have slept there (*cough cough* Richard Ramirez). In reality, the hotel is so creepy that it’s inspired a slew of TV and film productions, including the fifth season of American Horror Story. Yikes!

Therefore, with all that in mind, here’s a comprehensive history of every strange and disturbing event that has occurred at the Cecil Hotel from its inception. 

In 1924, the Cecil Hotel was constructed

The Beaux Arts-style Cecil was formally opened for business in 1927, backed by many millions of dollars in investments from 3 hoteliers—totalling roughly $13 million in modern currencies—during the cultural and financial boom of the 1920s. This had 600 rooms on 19 storeys and quickly gained a reputation as a posh location to stay in downtown L.A. Regrettably for the hotel’s owners, the Great Depression struck just a few years after Cecil’s opening, limiting the number of people looking for a nice place to stay while also turning the area surrounding the hotel in what was then known as Skid Row.

It became known as “The Suicide” during the 1960s

Amid Cecil’s early problems, things started to change for the worse in 1931, when the very first reported suicide at the hotel occurred. According to L.A.’s PBS affiliate KCET, at least a dozen more have happened since then, prompting many of the hotel’s long-term occupants to refer to it as “The Suicide” in the early 1960s.

Numerous additional unpleasant incidents occurred at the Cecil, especially when room prices dropped in tandem with the hotel’s shifting neighbourhood. The Cecil had become a popular shelter for drug dealers, bank robbers, and other criminals throughout the twentieth century, and visitors were allegedly robbed, attacked, or even killed. The sexual abuse and savage murder of “Pigeon Goldie” Osgood, who gained her moniker from her habit of feeding the pigeons in neighbouring Pershing Square, hit the headlines in 1964 but whose death is still unsolved, as per CNN.

Lam’s death is one of the most recent of the hotel’s mystery deaths. The Canadian student is estimated to have been killed in the rooftop water tank during early February 2013, but it was not discovered until February 19, after tenants complained about low water pressure, according to Netflix’s Crime Scene. An autopsy, combined with surveillance footage from the hotel that showed Lam acting abnormally in the hours leading up to her disappearance, led police to believe Lam died in a car accident.

The Cecil has a history of being involved in some of the country’s most notorious crimes

In addition to its reputation as the scene of several crimes, the Cecil has a strange propensity of turning up in some of the country’s most horrible crimes, even though they didn’t happen at the hotel. For example, Elizabeth Short was allegedly seen at the hotel’s bar in the days leading up to her terrible (and still unsolved) murder, which earned her the moniker “Black Dahlia,” though those claims have long been debunked. 

The records of Richard Ramirez’s stay at the Cecil, on the other hand, have been less challenged. During his mid-’80s crime spree, the so-called Night Stalker was frequently seen in Skid Row and checked into the Cecil over several weeks in July and August 1985, just before his arrest in late August, according to a former night clerk at the hotel.

Another serial killer, Jack Unterweger of Austria, is said to have stayed at the Cecil in the summer of 1991 after his earlier jail sentence for murder was reduced because of the notion that he would have been effectively rehabilitated. Unterweger reportedly killed 3 sex workers while being on assignment in Los Angeles, according to prosecutors.

Cecil seems to be the subject of numerous true crime documentaries and investigations as a consequence of its long-standing reputation, and so it served as at least limited inspiration for the fifth season of American Horror Story, which has been subtitled Hotel and did take place at the “Hotel Cortez” in downtown L.A.

The hotel’s owners have tried multiple times to rebrand it

You’d think that after nearly 100 years of heinous crimes and strange happenings, Cecil’s owners might simply demolish the cursed hotel and start again. Unfortunately, the building’s numerous owners have only attempted superficial rebranding of the hotel all through the years, with little or no success. As per KCET, an ownership group bought the Cecil Hotel for $26 million in 2007 and transformed part of it into the Stay on Main, a boutique semi priced hotel, but it kept the Cecil Hotel moniker which was the scene of three additional killings.

The hotel has subsequently changed hands again, with the present owners beginning a comprehensive refurbishment in 2016 that included a complete redesign of the interior. The renovations are anticipated to be completed in October, after which only time would tell if the hotel has been given a new lease on life.

‘We have to talk about the ghost stories’

In the case of Elisa Lam, the overwhelming evidence is powerful. The footage, as well as similarities towards the plot of the horror film Dark Water and perhaps even possible linkages to a tuberculosis test known as Lam-Elisa, have all fueled conspiracy theories and ghost stories that are still circulating online today.

We ought to talk more about ghost stories and put them in context, Joe argues. It’s not as if you could escape it; it’s an important aspect of the plot.

The discoveries of ‘web-sleuths,’ who worked side by side with the LAPD to piece together Elisa’s final moments, fuelled such scary stories in parts.

Numerous scenes appear in this series, demonstrating how people might develop “tunnel vision” when they only pay attention to coincidences or conspiracies. Web-sleuths could sometimes perform “great things,” but Elisa’s activities were a tad misplaced.

Except for the archive news video, Elisa’s family is absent from the film, but they were aware that Joe was repeating the narrative. We believe they simply desired to move on. According to the other versions of the storey, she was the victim of a horrific, evil entity that took control of her. 

Such kinds of storylines, I believe, are quite disrespectful, which is probably why the family didn’t want to deal with yet another show that would magnify the tragedy’s conditions.

But, for the very first time, the LA police, coroner, & manager of the Cecil Hotel at the moment speak up as to what transpired.

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