My Opinion On “Crime Scene: The Vanishing At Cecil Hotel”


Cassidy Gladieux

Featured image from Netflix

*spoilers ahead*

Earlier this month, Netflix released a new crime docuseries on Elisa Lam titled “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at Cecil Hotel.” The four-part series goes in depth on the disappearance of Lam in 2013 from the notorious hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The series explores all of the controversies surrounding her untimely death and ultimately what led investigators to rule it an accident. 

The first thing I need to address is the hotel itself. The majority of episode one and even some of episode two is spent setting the scene of what the hotel is really like and the dark history that it has. The manager being interviewed recalled that during her 10 years of working at the hotel, there were over 80 deaths, and 911 was dialed almost every night.

Personally, I think the most shocking tale regarding the hotel was that the Nightstalker stayed there for a period of time in the midst of his murder spree. I also believe that one of the reasons Lam’s case attracted so much attention was because of her connection to the hotel.

If anything, episode one and two really encouraged me to do my research before booking a place to stay in the future. It also significantly lowered my desire to visit Los Angeles. 

Despite the hotel itself, the docuseries tries to make you really question what actually happened to Lam … right up until the end. 

A number of people the series called “web sleuths” were interviewed and took a personal stake in the case. Some of their theories on what happened to her were really far out there, but others did make you think, “What if?” They continued to raise the possibility that something malicious may have happened to Lam and refused to let the police write it off until they had all the facts.

Now let’s talk about the coincidences in this show or “synchronicities.” I don’t consider myself a huge conspiracy believer, but some of these coincidences were freaky!

 One big synchronicity is to the movie “Dark Water.” In the movie, a mother and daughter discovered a strange leak in their new apartment which leads to the discovery of a young girl’s body in a water tower on the building’s roof, the same exact way Lam was found. 

That’s not all, though. One of the more outlandish theories revolved around the tuberculosis outbreak in 2013 on Skid Row. Was Lam sent to Skid Row as a type of biological weapon by the government? Definitely not but the web sleuths fed off the fact that the tuberculosis test that was named LAM-ELISA.

Whether you believe what happened to Lam was an accident or not, this next coincidence is so weird. One of the last locations Lam was seen before her disappearance was The Last Bookstore. 

“The last known person to see Elisa Lam was Katie Orphan, the manager of The Last Bookstore. If you perform a whois lookup of Katie’s website, you will see that she has purchased domain privacy, however it gives you a postcode address: V5G 4S2. Typing the code into Google Maps will take you to a town in Canada, to the exact location of where Elisa Lam’s funeral was held,” Tales of Crime states. 

By the fourth episode, we learn more about Lam’s struggle with mental health and information about the medication she was on and possible outcomes because of that. Now, if the show would have started with this information, I definitely would have just written it off as an accident in my head and not stayed to watch the whole thing, so I can see why we don’t get all of this information until the very last episode. At the end of the day, the coroner did rule her death an accident. 

Each time a new theory about how she may have died was presented, I found myself asking question after question thinking that it just didn’t make sense. The series described her struggle with mental health and explained that she wasn’t taking the correct amount of medication. This led her to act in strange ways and even possibly hallucinate. After learning this new and logical information, I had far less questions than the other theories.

Overall, Lam’s death was tragic and untimely. I do believe that her death was an accident. I hope her family as well as the internet sleuths who invested their lives into discovering the truth about her death find peace.