Netflix Announces Elisa Lam Docuseries About Her Mysterious Death Coming Next Month

by : Cameron Frew on : 13 Jan 2021 16:58
Netflix Announces Elisa Lam Docuseries About Her Mysterious Death Coming Next MonthCBS/LAPD

A new docuseries looking at the mysterious death of Elisa Lam is coming to Netflix next month. 

Lam, a 21-year-old Canadian tourist, stayed at the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles in February 2013. Weeks later, after disappearing, her body was discovered in the hotel’s rooftop water tank.


It’s been seven years, but the circumstances of her disappearance and tragic demise are still a point of obsession for investigators and online sleuths, with the question still standing: what happened to Elisa Lam?

Cecil HotelNetflix

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel is a new four-part docuseries from executive producer and director Joe Berlinger, behind the streamer’s earlier Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and the Paradise Lost trilogy.

Lam had vanished having left all her possessions, including money and ID, in her hotel room. As the case became known to the public, police released the last known footage of her: an eerie CCTV clip of her getting into an elevator, pressing all the buttons, peering out into the hall, stepping back out the elevator and then disappearing off camera, leaving the lift’s doors opening and closing.


Berlinger told Variety: ‘As a true crime documentarian, I was fascinated in 2013 when the elevator video of Elisa Lam went viral and legions of amateur detectives used the internet to try to solve the mystery of what happened to her, a 21-year-old Canadian tourist on her first trip to Los Angeles.’

You can watch the elevator footage below:

He continued: ‘So, when journalist Josh Dean, who is also a producer on the project, brought us his research into this case, we realised there was as an opportunity to do something different by not just telling the story of Elisa’s disappearance, but to create a series that explores a particular location’s role in encouraging or abetting crime — or the perception thereof.’


On February 19, a maintenance worker found her body floating in one of the water tanks, which had to be completely drained before she was removed. While the case is officially closed, it’s still referenced as an unsolved mystery.

The Cecil Hotel has also been a hotspot for strange deaths, murders and serial killers since opening in 1927, with the ‘Night Stalker’ Richard Ramirez once known as a regular guest.

Richard Ramirez Night Stalker NetflixNetflix

Berlinger added: ‘My past projects have leaned into individual crimes and criminals, but I have never explored the role a particular location has played in creating an environment in which multiple crimes seemingly take place over and over again. The fact that Elisa disappeared in a location that has a multi-decade history of crimes is what made her case fascinating to me.’


Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel will hit Netflix on February 10. It marks the first season of Crime Scene, which ‘will explore a particular location and the social forces that contribute to its criminal history, while also looking at specific crimes within that context’ in later seasons.

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Film and TV, Netflix, Now, True crime, TV


  1. Variety

    Netflix Announces Elisa Lam Docuseries ‘Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel’ (EXCLUSIVE)