Guests describe what it was like staying at the Cecil Hotel when Elisa Lam went missing
They describe ‘terrible’ water, a ‘hostage situation’ and why they think Elisa was murdered
The body of Elisa Lam was only found on the roof of the Cecil Hotel in a water tank after guests staying there complained the water was discoloured and tasted off. Two of those guests were Mike and Sabrina Baugh, who are interviewed as part of Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, a four-part Netflix documentary series about the case.
Mike and Sabrina were there in 2013, and said in the Netflix documentary they felt “sick” after drinking the same water where Elisa Lam’s body had been. In a further interview since the series, they added they have never tasted anything as terrible, and think Elisa was killed there.
Elisa Lam went missing on February 1st 2013, and the couple said they noticed missing persons posters for her on the day they arrived. The couple, from Plymouth, said they “always wanted to go to America, especially Los Angeles.” It would be their first time in the States – and after seeing a cheap package holiday deal advertised online with no mention of the hotel, they booked it – and then arrived at the Cecil.
In the Netflix series, Sabrina described being impressed by the “grand” and “beautiful” hotel lobby, but Mike said once you stepped into the lifts it was like going back to the 80s. The room was “dirty” with “dust everywhere” and “almost sticky” floors.
‘The water had a brown tint, I have never drunk anything terrible enough to compare it to’
Later in the series, Mike and Sabrina said they “didn’t know about the reputation of the hotel”, but after a few days realised it was “horrendous”. They said about five days in things got worse, they were struggling to sleep as parties were taking place in rooms below them and they could smell weed through the bathroom vent. It was at this point they noticed water pressure in the taps was low, and the water was discoloured – with a “brown tint”. Sabrina said they were brushing their teeth with the water, showering in it and drinking it. She said it had a “funny taste” to it.
Speaking to The Sun, Mike added: “I can’t describe the taste because I have never drunk anything terrible enough to compare it to. We knew that it might not be safe to drink so we had bought lots of bottled water anyway but we were showering, brushing our teeth, drinking coffee and tea and all the utensils we used had been washed with the water from the water tank on the roof.
“Also some nights were so hot and, being from the UK, we weren’t used to the heat so we drank all of our bottled water. Then we got thirsty in the middle of the night, but we couldn’t go down to the lobby, because we didn’t want to walk through the stinky corridors. It was creepy at night because there were lots of mentally unwell, homeless people staying there. So we ended up drinking water from the tap.”
The couple complained, and moved to another room two floors up. The water pressure didn’t improve, so the hotel staff said they would pass concerns on to maintenance staff. “After they moved us, we noticed the water was more discoloured. It was transparent, but with a yellowy-brown tinge”, Mike added. Just hours after the couple moved rooms and hotel guests complaints were passed on, maintenance staff went up to the water tanks on the roof of the Cecil and found the body of Elisa Lam.
‘We were held in the lobby for 12 hours, it was like a hostage situation’
Mike and Sabrina Baugh then described seeing news companies outside and hearing lots of sirens. They said Cecil Hotel staff were “hiding things” from the guests, so the only way to find out what was going on was to speak to the reporters outside. Mike told The Sun it was like a “hostage situation” and that they were held in the lobby for 12 hours. They were told by reporters that maintenance had found the body of missing Canadian student Elisa on the roof. “I just looked at him and said ‘what?’ I couldn’t believe it”, said Sabrina.
Sabrina said: “I had all these thoughts running through my head. It made us feel sick to the stomach. I think it’s traumatised me for life.” Another hotel guest added that it “really churns my stomach”.
Mike told The Sun: “A reporter outside the hotel told us there was a body in the tank and I realised this was what caused the water pressure problem, the discolouration, the taste. I was speechless. I felt unclean, like I wanted to drink 12 bottles of water to flush it out of my system and have a shower, then have another shower. I felt physically sick.”
“We didn’t have anything to eat or drink but we felt so sick we couldn’t have stomached it anyway.”
‘It seems to me that it was murder’
Mike also doesn’t believe that Elisa’s death was accidental. He told the Sun: “Based on just the logistics and the kind of person I’ve heard her to be, it seems to me that it was murder. Yes, mental illness is probably a part of it in some way but people take advantage of those with mental illness as well. Given how she ended up where she ended up, and also the circumstances around the clothes, it doesn’t seem to me something that she did of her own accord.”
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.