The Cecil Hotel Is More Than Just What Happened To Elisa Lam
The Cecil hotel has a history and not a glorious one either. Suicides, Murders, Drug Overdoses, Prostitution, and the list keeps going. Located in the “Skid Row” section of downtown Los Angeles this one-time luxurious hotel has a sordid past that no hotel wants.
If you visit now, the new name is “Stay On Main,” located at 640 S. Main street, Los Angeles, CA.
Construction on the hotel was started in 1924. In 1927 they opened the doors to the Infamous Cecil Hotel.
The first reported death was November 19th, 1931, when W. K. Norton committed suicide by swallowing capsules of poison. Afterward, there have been over dozens of deaths, murders, and suicides. Throughout the ’40s and ’50s, 2 long-time residents called the hotel, The Suicide.
One of the most notable deaths was Elizabeth Short, Jan. 1947, dubbed by the media as the Black Dahlia. Even though she wasn’t staying at the hotel, she was last seen at the hotel bar. When discovered, her body was cut from the corners of her mouth to the ears. Her murder to this day has never been solved.
One of the most bizarre murders that happened at the Cecil Hotel was the death of “Pigeon Goldie” Osgood. Her nickname was Pigeon because she loved feeding the birds. A long-time resident at the hotel retired from being a telemarketer. She was loved by the other residents at the hotel. When she was found, she had been raped, stabbed, and beaten. There was only one arrest, Jacques B. Ehlinger, but he was later cleared of her murder. No one was ever charged with her death.
Pauline Otton had been in an argument with her estranged husband, Dewey. He had left the room she was staying in before she jumped to her death. When she jumped, she landed on 65-year-old George Gianinni. He was walking down the street when she landed on him, and the impact killed them both.
During the ’80s, a serial killer named Richard Ramirez, also known as “Night Stalker”, a self-proclaimed Satanist. He would go out at night and show up in the morning with nothing on but his underwear, covered in blood. The cameras at the back of the hotel caught this a few times; he would remove his clothes and throw them in the dumpster after committing some of the most brutal murders in Southern California. He August was caught and arrested August 30th 1985. In1989 he was convicted of 13 murders and other crimes. He was sentenced to death. During his stay at San Quentin State Prison, he was diagnosed with cancer. He died in 2013.
The second serial killer that stayed there was Jack Unterweger. The Austrian had been previously convicted of murder. While in prison, he began to write, his work got noticed by the Austrian Literacy Elite. He was released early for thought to had been rehabilitated. He went to West Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and the United States. In his stay at the hotel, he became a minor celebrity, worked as a playwriter, and was a journalist. While there, he murdered 3 prostitutes. He was convicted of 9 murders and hung himself in his cell in 1994.
Elisa Lam, the girl in the elevator, disappeared on January 31st, 2013. Elisa was young and full of life; she always wanted to travel to California. If you haven’t seen the video of her from the elevator at the hotel, look it up. She seemed to be talking to someone, and then, it was like she was hiding in the corner of the elevator. But that footage was the last time she was seen. She had been staying with 2 other girls that said she had been acting unusual. She was on meds for bi-polar; her sister told the reports that she would act very strange whenever her sister would stop taking her meds.
The hotel residents started noticing the discolored water, the nasty taste, and the water pressure was awful. After several reports, the hotel manager sent a maintenance worker to check the 4 water tanks on the hotel’s roof. There Elisa Lam’s body was discovered 19 days later, February 19th, 2013. When her body was found, her clothes were at the bottom of the tank. They believed she went up on the roof, and climbed the ladder and lifted the 20-pound door, and closed it behind her even though there was no ladder or steps on the inside. It was ruled as an accidental drowning. On Netflix, there’s a series called Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel about Elisa Lam’s investigation.
June 13th 2015 a 28-year-old, jumped to his death. His name was never released and is the last known death at The Cecil.
The 5th season of AHS Hotel is loosely based on Cecil Hotel. Ghost Adventures: Cecil Hotel is airing on Discovery+, and the movie “Followed” also used The Cecil as inspiration. “Followed” was released in 2020 and is available on Amazon Prime Video.