Armies of online sleuths swarmed the internet in 2013 when the body of Canadian tourist Elisa Lam was found in a rooftop water tank at a downtown Los Angeles hotel after being missing for 19 days. Now the Netflix docuseries Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel has people asking what happened to her once again. And lots of eyebrows are being raised in the direction of the hotel itself. The Cecil Hotel — now named Stay On Main — has seen its fair share of tragic events in its 97 years of service, if you can call it that. Specifically, there have been a lot — and we mean a lot — of deaths there. Let’s take a look into the place’s sordid past and try to get an idea of just how many deaths have happened at the Cecil Hotel.
For one thing, many, many people have committed suicide there. According to Bizarre Los Angeles, the first death ever recorded at the hotel was that of 52-year-old Percy Ormond Cook, who shot himself there in 1927 after a bitter, months-long separation from his wife and son. Several other people have taken their own lives at the Cecil Hotel, many choosing to do so by jumping from windows on the higher floors. One of those suicides, that of 27-year-old Pauline Otton in 1962, also caused the death of an elderly pedestrian when Otton landed on him on the sidewalk.
Some say the deaths at the Cecil Hotel are the result of paranormal activity
The Cecil Hotel has such a laundry list (and a dirty one, at that) of death and violence that some people have suggested that evil forces not of this world have been at work. According to The Tab, the place has even earned itself the ghastly nickname “Hotel Death” over the years. For one thing, the hotel may as well have given a serial killer discount. A serial killer from Austria named Jack Unterwerger stayed there in 1991 while ostensibly working on a story about the city’s red-light districts, but really he was just continuing a killing spree he’d started across the pond. The notorious serial killer Richard Ramirez, aka the Night Stalker, was also a regular guest at the Cecil, and apparently being “covered in blood” didn’t violate the hotel’s dress code for public areas.
The most astonishing detail about the deaths at the Cecil Hotel, however, is the sheer number of them. Ex-manager Amy Price told the filmmakers that “there were about 80 deaths” during her time working there from 2007 to 2017. The hotel has been closed for renovations since 2017, but we don’t recommend staying there once it reopens.
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