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The body of Elisa Lam, also known by her Cantonese name, Lam Ho Yi (藍可兒; April 30, 1991 – February 2013), a Canadian student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, was recovered from a water tank atop the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles on February 19, 2013. She had been reported missing at the beginning of the month. Maintenance workers at the hotel discovered the body when investigating guest complaints of problems with the water supply.
Her disappearance had been widely reported; interest had increased five days prior to her body's discovery when the Los Angeles Police Department released video of the last time she was known to have been seen, on the day of her disappearance, by an elevator security camera. In the footage, Lam is seen exiting and re-entering the elevator, talking and gesturing in the hallway outside, and sometimes seeming to hide within the elevator, which itself appears to be malfunctioning. The video went viral on the Internet, with many viewers reporting that they found it unsettling. Explanations ranged from claims of paranormal involvement to bipolar disorder from which Lam suffered; it has also been argued that the video was altered prior to release.
The circumstances of Lam's death, once she was found, also raised questions, especially in light of the Cecil's history in relation to other notable deaths and murders. Her body was naked with most of her clothes and personal effects floating in the water near her. It took the Los Angeles County Coroner's office four months, after repeated delays, to release the autopsy report, which reports no evidence of physical trauma and states that the manner of death was accidental. Guests at the Cecil, now re-branded as Stay on Main, sued the hotel over the incident, and Lam's parents filed a separate suit later that year; the latter was dismissed in 2015. Some of the early Internet interest noted what were considered to be unusual similarities between Lam's death and the 2005 horror film Dark Water. The case has since been referenced in international popular culture
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