Vancouver student's death
L.A. mystery deepens: hotel rooftop where body found had an alarm
Fire officials say the door leading to the roof of the Cecil Hotel in L.A. where Vancouver student Elisa Lam was found dead was fitted with an alarm that would sound continuously if the door was open and could only be turned off with a special key. (REUTERS FILE PHOTO)
The mystery surrounding the death of Elisa Lam deepened Wednesday, as 24 hours learned a door leading to the rooftop water tanks where her body was found was fitted with an alarm that should have sounded when the door was opened.
The door has no lock but the alarm system would have rung continuously until it was turned off using a special key, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
According to L.A.'s fire code, it is illegal to lock rooftop doors in a highrise building. But a sign warning the door is alarmed is posted and it is unclear who had access to the key to shut it off.
The dead 21-year-old Vancouver student’s body was found Tuesday morning, then removed from one of four large water storage tanks atop the Cecil Hotel in downtown L.A. and identified through body marks.
Capt. Jaime Moore of the LAFD said it is not known whether the alarm rang the last night Lam was seen alive.
The alarm is a large part of the investigation into how Lam died and how her body got into the tank, said L.A. Police Department spokesman Christopher No.
“That will play a role to see if that was locked or not or who had access to that,” No said.
Moore said the eight-foot-high tank in which Lam’s body was found after she’d been missing for three weeks had ladders on the outside and hatches without locks on the top. There were no ladders inside the tanks.
The Cecil, which has a checkered past, is located near a shady part of the city and divided into floors used as low-income residences and hotel rooms, according to Kim Cooper, a social historian with Esotouric tours.
Cooper said the hotel is known as the one-time residence of notorious serial killers Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger.
“In Ramirez’s case, it’s known that he actually would come in through the back alley after killing people, covered in blood, take his clothes off, throw them in the dumpster and go up the back stairs to the room that he was staying in,” she said.
But she said despite the two notable residents, the Cecil Hotel has not been connected to many other high-profile crimes.