If there was ever a hotel you’d want to skip out on, it would be Hotel Cecil.
The 600-room downtown Los Angeles hotel has been plagued by misfortune and weird occurrences for almost its entire existence.
In the last few years, it shut down and was re-branded as Stay On Main, but markings and signs still exist in many locations identifying it as Hotel Cecil.
While previously unknown to most, the LA hotel came back into the limelight when it was the subject of a viral video back in 2013.
A 21-year-old Canadian-Asian student had been staying at Hotel Cecil when she went missing on January 31st, 2013.
Elisa would ring home every night, but on January 31 the phone calls stopped. After her parents called the police, they searched everywhere in the hotel they legally could, going through her belongings and sending sniffer dogs to trace the hotel and roof for her scent. The search was unsuccessful.
The disappearance was hugely publicised, especially when CCTV footage of Lam in the hotel lift was released. It showed her pressing all the buttons, having conversations with people who can not be seen, walking in and out of the elevator numerous times, and seemingly trying to hide in the corner of the lift. Soon after the footage was released, guests began to complain foul tasting, black-coloured water.
Hotel staff checked the water tank and found Elisa Lam – naked and decomposed along with her belongings. Tests ruled out suicide, murder, sexual assault and found no trace of drugs in her body.
But that wasn’t the only unusual thing to have happened at Hotel Cecil.
The hotel opened in 1924 and at the time, it was a popular place to stay. By the 1950’s, the hotel had fallen into disrepair was mostly home to low-income, long-term residents and transients.
The first sign of trouble was on January 15th, 1947. A female’s naked body was found a few blocks away from the hotel with her mouth sliced open. She became known as the Black Dahlia, but was later identified as Elizabeth Short. Many rumours persist that the last place she was seen alive was at Hotel Cecil.
Warning image shows a dead body:
After the Black Dahlia, the most famous Hotel Cecil serial killers – Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger – moved in.
Ramirez, known as the ‘Nightstalker,’ resided on California’s death row until June 2013, but in 1985 he was living on the Cecil’s top floor in a $14 a night room, according to LA tour guide Richard Schave and his wife, Kim Cooper, who run a crime tour called ‘Hotel Horrors & Main Street Vice.’
Speaking to CNN, they said the Cecil, then filled with hundreds of transients living in cheap rooms, was a good place for Ramirez to go unnoticed as he killed 13 women. He was ‘just dumping his bloody clothes in the Dumpster at the end of his evening and going in the back entrance,’ according to Schave.
Another guest of Hotel Cecil was Jack Unterweger – a prolific serial killer. His crime span lasted 18 years, from 1974 to 1992, when he was finally arrested. Unterweger worked as a journalist covering Los Angeles crime for an Austrian magazine in 1991 when he moved into the Cecil.
Schave said: “We believe he was living at the Cecil in homage to Ramirez.” He is blamed with killing three prostitutes in Los Angeles while a guest at the hotel.
But the deaths do not end there. During the 1950s and 60s, Hotel Cecil was known infamously as a place where people would kill themselves.
In October 1954, Helen Gurnee, in her 50s, committed suicide and leaped from a seventh floor window, landing on the Cecil Hotel marquee. In February 1962, Julia Moore jumped from her eighth floor room window. In October 1962, Pauline Otton, 27, jumped from a ninth floor window after an argument with her estranged husband. She landed on George Gianinni, 65, who was walking on the sidewalk 90 feet below. Both were killed instantly.
But not everyone committed suicide.
“Pigeon Goldie” Osgood, a retired telephone operator, was found dead in her ransacked room on June 4, 1964, according to CNN. Osgood, known for feeding and protecting the pigeons at nearby Pershing Square, was stabbed, strangled and raped. The crime has not been solved.
Strange activity is so commonly reported at the hotel that in 2015, the TV show American Horror Story: Hotel was loosely based on Hotel Cecil.