A story like Elisa’s can’t help but to raise a great clamour when exposed to and explored by the motley crew of ragtag characters that inhabit the weirder corners of the internet. As mentioned before, many of these are pretty absurd, while others raise some pretty compelling questions. We will, of course, start with the kooks.
Many of these sources make a great deal out of the Elisa Lam elevator video, particularly the last few seconds when Elisa can be seen speaking and gesturing to someone or something that can’t be seen on the footage. Much has been made of the fact that the object of her attention doesn’t show up on the tape. I admit I find this a little confusing because the video really only shows the elevator car itself and a small section of the hallway; I mean, presumably, there’s all kinds of stuff in the hallway we can’t see in this video, right? And that’s not even considering the possibility that whoever it was has been edited out of the footage— but that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Right now we’re dealing with this obviously straight-up invisible assailant, which, of course, leads us directly to Ghost Town.
Population: You. I mean, BOOOOO!!!
Given the Cecil’s history of grisly death, it’s certainly not the most outlandish thing in the world to suggest that it may be haunted. If anywhere is haunted, it’s the Cecil. Demonic activity has also been suggested, with many drawing a connection between Richard Ramirez’s satanism and the many tragedies at the hotel; perhaps he was possessed by the same demon that drove so many to suicide, Elisa Lam included.
My favourite version of the supernatural hypothesis involves a bloody-Mary-type game played in an elevator, which was (supposedly) popular in Korea around the time of Elisa’s death. As far as I can determine, it wasn’t translated into English until after her body was found, and it’s never really explained how she would have caught on to it, given that she lived in Canada and her family was Chinese and not Korean, but troublesome little details like that have a tendency to drop off. Basically, the idea is that by selecting a certain sequence of floor buttons on an elevator, the person playing the game can be transported to some kind of Underneath-style alternate dimension, which “looks the same as the town / building that you are from, but all the lights are off and you can only see a red cross in the distance.” The trip is dangerous, and players are often disoriented upon returning to their ‘home’ dimension. This disorientation, the argument goes, explains Elisa’s strange behaviour, her apparent physical wobbliness at certain points, and her eventual decision to jump into the water tank.
Also in the vein of the ethereal and supernatural, other writers attempt to explain the tragedy biblically, such as this person who uses a little biblical numerology to prove… well, something or other, anyway. It’s all a little hard to follow.
ELISA is a biblical name and means “God’s promised”/”God’s dedicated“
LAM is lamb as in the Lamb of god.
(Romans 8:3; Hebrews 10) “When Jesus is called the Lamb of God in John 1:29 and John 1:36, it is referring to Him as the perfect and ultimate sacrifice for sin. In order to understand who Christ was and what He did, we must begin with the Old Testament, which contains prophecies concerning the coming of Christ as a “guilt offering” (Isaiah 53:10). In fact, the whole sacrificial system established by God in the Old Testament set the stage for the coming of Jesus Christ, who is the perfect sacrifice God would provide as atonement for the sins of His people.”
I AM SEAL is an anagram for ELISA LAM?
(Rev. 6:7-8) “When he broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth animal shout, ‘Come’. Immediately another horse appeared, deathly pale, and its rider was called Plague, and Hades followed at his heels. They were given authority over a quarter of the earth, to kill by the sword, by famine, by plague and wild beasts.“
THEY SAY COINCIDENCE DOES NOT EXIST
SO WHO IS PLAYING THE CARDS, AND WHAT FOR?
Other contributors work more toward the prosaic, at least comparatively speaking, with some suggesting that Elisa Lam may never have died. As it turns out, Elisa’s blog rather creepily made a few posts after her death. Some have taken this as evidence that the body in the water tank was part of some kind of elaborate ruse, and that Elisa still lives, presumably in hiding. It should be mentioned here that it would have been possible for her to queue posts on her blog before her death so that they would have posted automatically afterward (there’s no text posted after her death, just images— in fact most of her blog even before her death consists of reblogged images as well, with comparatively little text). There’s also the question of how Elisa could have pulled off a body-switch capable of fooling the LAPD, or why she would do so, or, most importantly, how she could be clever enough to manage it but absentminded enough to continue posting on her old blog after the fact.
For the kind of people who see everything as some kind of false flag attack, Elisa Lam’s death was part of an elaborate cover-up regarding the TB outbreak, which was orchestrated by the government for some unknown reason. This argument generally goes on to suggest that Elisa was killed in order to provide a clue to some enterprising Fox Mulder type, who would then be able to follow the breadcrumbs to the LAM-ELISA tests and thence to the dismantling of the nefarious Powers That Be.
A particularly wacky offshoot of this line of reasoning combines the government-conspiracy angle with the ‘invisible attacker’ angle to suggest that Elisa was murdered by, and I’m not making this up, a soldier outfitted with a prototype invisibility generator, who was sent to the Cecil to stalk and kill victims in an authorized test of this advanced technology. Plausible deniability is obtained by the reputation of the hotel itself; where better to test an invisibility generator than a place already rumoured to be packed full of ghosts? This argument is cobbled together from some very tenuous connections: a couple weeks before her disappearance, Elisa retweeted a Huffpost article about a Canadian company that claimed to have developed an ‘invisibility cloak’ (this was clearly because she was deeply involved in covert black-ops military espionage and not because she was just a kid who happened to read something cool on the internet). After her death, someone noticed that the Cecil hotel shares a block with a company called “The Invisible Light Agency”, a special effects company, which has since apparently folded. Now, this company is not the company mentioned in the article Elisa tweeted about on January 13, nor do they have anything to do with military technology, or anything at all involved with turning people invisible, but they do have the word ‘invisible’ in their company name, so you tell me, pal, what the hell else would they be doing?! CASE CLOSED!
No, YOU shut up!
Now I’ll grant, the above is all pretty flimsy, as you’d expect. However, in the course of all this nonsense, somebody found something quite interesting when they took a close look at the elevator footage. Elisa’s behaviour is odd enough to be a bit of a distraction, so perhaps it’s not surprising that something really obvious went overlooked for quite a while: the timestamp in the bottom left of the video, which should indicate a time and date for the recording, has been blurred over for some reason. What’s going on there?
When the timestamp was analyzed closely, something really weird came to light; the tape has been edited. It’s been done subtly, as if to avoid raising alarm bells, but this is definitely not a contiguous tape. The following video explains it all very well:
Not only is there missing time on the timestamp, but it seems to have been cut at specific points where the overall continuity would not be greatly affected, as if to make it seem like the time cut from the tape was never there to begin with. Beyond that, watching the video with a very close eye on the timer reveals that certain parts have been slowed down, as if to cut out sections without affecting the overall length of the clip. It’s entirely possible that these slowdowns contributed greatly to the nebulous, unexplainable sense of weirdness that one gets when watching Elisa on the tape.
The LAPD have never come forward to explain what happened to the tape. Maybe they have an original, and what they released to the public is a version that has been edited to remove images of people who have been cleared of guilt in the case. Such treatment of sensitive data certainly wouldn’t be out of the question, but one would think that the original version would have been released by now, which it hasn’t. There’s also the somewhat troubling fact that the LAPD never told the public exactly when the recording was taken, specifying only a three-day period ‘within which’ the tape was recorded. This is very strange indeed, as surveillance systems like this always have a specific date recorded along with the surveillance data itself. It almost seems as if the edited tape we have, in the form that we have it, was given by hotel management to the LAPD, who never thought to question the issue with the timestamp. Could the Cecil’s proprietors be hiding something?
Ultimately, despite the work that’s been done, few conclusive answers have been proposed. However, the nature of the work itself is, I think, something quite fascinating. Given the possibility that Elisa’s bipolar disorder may have been a contributing factor in her death, many have questioned whether it’s appropriate to go running after ghouls and government agents; doesn’t this diminish the reality of the mental disorder with which Elisa struggled? That’s a thorny question which we’ll take a look at as we wrap up in the next section, but I think there’s a case to be made in the other direction, as well. Judging from her online presence, Elisa Lam often felt overlooked and out of place. She was also often funny and seemed honest and determined. She could have been one of any number of largely-forgotten individuals who pass through the veil in any big city on any given day, but her death was instead the catalyst for a loosely collaborative project among hundreds of people— at least some of whom were motivated, I think, as much by Elisa’s personality as by the grainy few seconds of film that preceded her death. One certainly can’t argue that her death had no impact; indeed, part of what makes this story so weird is that it seems to have had too much impact, an impossible degree of impact, establishing all of these eerily-specific relationships to mundane aspects of the time and space around it. This includes the fact that, after three days of research on the subject, I learned that Elisa had on that fateful night been wearing a promotional sweater from the Alexander Keith’s brewery, which is about three miles from my house.
Dun dun DUNNNNNN.