Everything Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel on Netflix missed out

The lawsuit filed by Elisa Lam’s family was dismissed

For the past week, Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel has been number one in the Netflix Top 10 list all over the world. Since the documentary series was released, everyone has been getting into the Elisa Lam case and the history of the Cecil Hotel.

The four-part series focuses on the 2013 death of 21-year-old Canadian student Elisa Lam. She had travelled to Los Angeles and was staying at the Cecil Hotel. She was reported missing on February 1st, and it wasn’t until the 19th that her body was found in a water tank on the roof of the hotel. There are loads of theories surrounding what might have happened to her, but the documentary goes with the coroner’s conclusion that Elisa died because of accidental drowning.

Whilst the documentary was four episodes long and does give some sort of conclusion to the Elisa Lam case, Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel did still miss out a few things. Here’s a rundown.

There’s a lot more to the troubled history of the Cecil Hotel than the documentary says

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel briefly mentions some of the other deaths and links to violence and murder that have happened at the Cecil over the years. It mentions the death of Goldie Osgood and serial killers Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger living there – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There have been countless other deaths and strange occurrences at the Cecil Hotel. Here’s a list of all the recorded cases. 

via Netflix

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel also said very little about Elisa Lam’s family life

Other than briefly seeing Elisa’s parents and sister at a press briefing and finding out her parents own a Chinese restaurant, not a lot is said about Elisa’s early or family life. Elisa was born on April 30th 1991, to David and Yinna Lam. She had a sister called Sarah who she was reportedly very close with. Elisa was still living at home when she decided she wanted to travel to America.

The family still reportedly owns and operates Paul’s Restaurant in North Burnaby. The restaurant was reportedly closed for quite a while after Elisa’s death, and flowers and notes filled the area around the front door.

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, Netflix, Cecil Hotel, Elisa Lam, documentary, case, missed, family, parents, sister

via Netflix

The lawsuit filed by Elisa Lam’s family was dismissed

During the Netflix series it is said that Elisa Lam’s parents, David and Yinna Lam, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Cecil Hotel. This happened in September 2013 and said that the hotel had obligation to “inspect and seek out hazards in the hotel that presented an unreasonable risk of danger to (Lam) and other hotel guests” as she was able to access the roof and the open water tanks. A Supreme Court judge dismissed the case, citing that the Cecil Hotel could not have foreseen the tragedy.

Christopher Dorner, whose case was briefly mentioned, was killed by police

Christopher Dorner, case, Netflix

via Netflix

Whilst LAPD officers were still searching for Elisa, they heard that Christopher Dorner was on a killing spree, and this meant the police had to reduce the number of investigators looking for the missing student from 18 down to four, so they could focus on this case instead. In the Netflix doc we hear that LAPD was “at war” with the then 33-year-old, and it was “under attack by one of its own”.

Christopher Dorner was a former police officer and college graduate who went on a killing spree in February 2013. He was targeting law enforcement and their families and said he “wouldn’t stop until he was dead”. For nine days he wreaked havoc on the police force, taking revenge on his former colleagues.

Dorner killed four people and wounded three others. On February 12th 2013, Dorner died during a standoff with San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputies after a shootout in a cabin at a ski resort in the San Bernardino Mountains, south California.

The two British guests interviewed in Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel have gone into much more detail about their stay there

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, Netflix, Cecil Hotel, Elisa Lam, documentary, case, missed

via Netflix

Mike and Sabrina Baugh were interviewed during the Netflix series, as they were two of the guests staying at the hotel at the time of Elisa Lam’s death. They complained about the discoloured water, which lead to maintenance staff finding Elisa in the water tank.

In a further interview, Mike added: “I can’t describe the taste [of the water] 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.”

He added that the hotel became like a “hostage situation” on the day, and they were held in the lobby for 12 hours. “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”, he said.

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, Netflix, Cecil Hotel, Elisa Lam, documentary, case, missed

Mike and Sabrina Baugh being interviewed by CNN, via Netflix

Mike also added in an Instagram video where he was answering people’s questions, that there was no crime scene tape in place at the hotel – so people were able to “walk on through” whilst police were there. He said they weren’t refunded by the hotel or the holiday company.

He also said that a lot of people who watched the Netflix documentary “picked up on the vibe” that hotel manager Amy Price, who was interviewed in the series, is “a bit strange”. He says he thinks she was “completely out of her depth” and was basically “invisible”, “hiding all the time”.

Elisa Lam’s Tumblr account is still online now, and has been active since her death

Elisa Lam, Tumblr

via Tumblr

Throughout the series we see numerous recreations of Elisa Lam on her Tumblr account. Everything the recreations say or show are exact quotes from posts she did make – none are made up or changed. Elisa Lam’s Tumblr account, nouvelle-nouveau, is still online and available today, eight years after her death.

In the bio of her page is a quote from author Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Diary, which reads: “You’re always haunted by the idea you’re wasting your life.” A number of posts have gone out on the blog since Elisa died, with people raising concerns about who it was posting them. However, people on Reddit say it is “well known and believed” that Elisa used a post queue to schedule future posts.

The old Cecil Hotel general manager Amy Price now runs a jewellery business

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, Netflix, Cecil Hotel, Elisa Lam, documentary, case, missed

via Netflix

Amy Price is interviewed as the most recent general manager of the Cecil Hotel, who was in charge when Elisa Lam went missing. After leaving her job as the manager of the Cecil Hotel, Amy Price now owns a business called Amy Price Jewellery. She is also in the process of writing a book. Read more about what she’s up to now here. 

Morbid is a dad!

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, Netflix, Cecil Hotel, Elisa Lam, documentary, case, missed

via Netflix

One of the stand out interviews from Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel on Netflix is the one with musician and actor Pablo Vergara, aka Morbid. The death metal singer was accused by internet sleuths of killing Elisa Lam. The accusations caused him to quit music and he attempted to take his own life.

Since the case, Morbid has focused on more film making projects, and has moved away from music. He now works as a screenwriter and production assistant in Hollywood. He’s also become a father!

In 2016, three years after the Elisa Lam case, Morbid received a scholarship to the New York Film Academy (NYFA) and one of his films won the award for Best International Fictional Film at a film festival in 2019. Catch up more with him since the series here. 

The Cecil Hotel has more references in pop culture

The infamous hotel has been a feature in more than the documentary says, including being the backdrop in some music videos. The building is featured in U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” and Blink-182’s “The Rock Show.” The Cecil Hotel was also reportedly the inspiration for the Coen Brothers’ 1991 film Barton Fink and it was also the inspiration for American Horror Story season five “Hotel”.

The U2 video

The U2 video

The Cecil Hotel is currently closed, but looking to reopen very soon

The hotel was taken over by new owners who bought the property for $26million in 2007 with the idea of giving it a $100million makeover. In 2011, the Cecil Hotel was rebranded as “Stay on Main”, as an effort to move away from is troubled past.

In 2014 it was sold again for $30million (£21million) to hotelier Richard Born. It closed in 2017 as it was being renovated and redeveloped into a mix of hotel rooms and residential units. It is yet to have reopened. The owners reportedly want all works on the hotel to be completed by October 2021 – but due to the pandemic this will probably be delayed further.

At this very moment in time, the Cecil Hotel is not open. But the building does still operate as a hotel and will reopen in the future. Redevelopment plans reportedly include fixing issues in the interior, and revamping a gym, lounge and rooftop pool.

There was a ghost sighting at the Cecil Hotel less than a year after Elisa Lam’s death

In 2014, an 11-year-old boy took a photo that appears to show a figure hanging out of a fourth floor window at the Cecil Hotel. The boy reportedly suffered from nightmares after seeing the image he had taken. “When I looked at that window, it just looked kind of creepy to me, and then I showed my friend, and he kind of freaked out. It just creeps me out still,” he said in an interview.

The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel case has gone viral again more recently, with Gen Z talking about it on TikTok

In December, before the Netflix documentary was announced, a TikTok went viral discussing the case. The Netflix series mentions a lot of times the case has come up and got theorists talking, but this one saw Gen Z getting involved. The video was subtitled as “a death that still doesn’t sit with me right” and has had over 10 million views. It shows the strange CCTV footage of Elisa Lam in the elevator at the Cecil, and the comments are full of people sharing their own theories of what happened.

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. 

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Google reviews share what it’s like to stay in the ‘terrible’ and ‘dirty’ Cecil Hotel

• A body language expert has analysed the CCTV video of Elisa Lam at the Cecil Hotel

Where is Morbid now? What happened to Pablo Vergara after Cecil Hotel Netflix doc