Body of Missing Tourist Found in Hotel Water Tank
LOS ANGELES — Police say that a body discovered inside a rooftop water tank at the Cecil Hotel is that of a missing Canadian tourist Elisa Lam.
Guests at the hotel in downtown Los Angeles had complained about weak water pressure, and at least one said there was flooding in a fourth-floor room.
Those complaints led a hotel maintenance worker on Tuesday to check on a large tank on the roof, where he found the body of a woman in her 20s at the bottom.
Authorities said late Tuesday that the body was that of Lam, 21, of Vancouver, Canada, who was last seen at the hotel on Jan. 31.
Police have provided few details about how the body might have ended up in the tank.
“We’re not ruling out foul play,” said LAPD Sgt. Rudy Lopez, noting that the location of the remains “makes it suspicious.”
A cause of death is still to be determined by county coroner’s officials, Lopez said.
Police searched the roof of the Cecil with the aid of dogs when Lam was reported missing about three weeks ago. Lopez said he didn’t know if the tanks were examined.
“We did a very thorough search of the hotel,” he said. “But we didn’t search every room; we could only do that if we had probable cause” that a crime had been committed.
According to detectives, Lam arrived in Los Angeles on Jan. 26.
She was traveling alone, but had been in contact with her parents daily before her disappearance.
It’s believed that her final destination was Santa Cruz, but her reasons for visiting California were unclear.
Lam was last seen inside the elevator of the hotel. Surveillance video shows her pushing buttons for multiple floors.
At one point, she steps out of the elevator and waves her arms. Police said taht a locked door that only employees have access to and a fire escape are the only ways to get on the roof.
The door is equipped with an alarm system that would notify the hotel that someone was up there, Lopez said.
Guests at the hotel were understandably shaken following the grim discovery.
Fire department officials said the tank where the body was found supplied the rooms with water for showers and sinks, as well as being used to clean the hotel’s linens.
The Department of Public Health took a water sample Tuesday and determined there was no biohazard.