The body of Elisa Lam (pictured inset), 21, was discovered Tuesday in the roof-top water tank of the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles weeks after her family reported her missing, reports CBS Los Angeles.
Lam’s corpse wasn’t discovered until a maintenance man went to check out the tank to determine what was causing low water pressure at the hotel. For at least 19 days, guests bathed, drank and ate food prepared with the contaminated water, completely unaware that there was a dead body in the supply.
Sabina and Michael Baugh, a British couple who checked out the Cecil on Wednesday said there were issues with the water during their stay, but they didn’t think to question it:
“The shower was awful,” Sabina Baugh said. “When you turned the tap on, the water was coming black first for two seconds and then it was going back to normal.”
The tap water “tasted horrible,” Baugh said. “It had a very funny, sweety, disgusting taste. It’s a very strange taste. I can barely describe it.”
But for a week, they never complained. “We never thought anything of it,” she said. “We thought it was just the way it was here.”
Knowing now what they didn’t know then about the water is sickening, Michael Baugh said. “It makes you feel literally physically sick, but more than that you feel it psychologically. You think about it and it’s not good.”
Lam had traveled from Canada to Los Angeles to tour the city, according to Police Sgt. Rudy Lopez said, and she made her last call to her family on January 31.
According to CNN, the tank is covered and stands behind a locked door. Once you add in suspicious surveillance footage that shows Lam on the last day that she was seen alive anxiously getting on an elevator and checking to make sure she wasn’t being followed, it is clear why this case is being handled as a potential homicide.
See surveillance video below:
Assistant chief coroner Ed Winter said that an autopsy was complete, but that it may take six to eight weeks for the results.
The Cecil remained opened for business, issuing a do-not-drink order to guests as required by the Los Angeles Public Health Department.
Read more details from CNN below:
The Los Angeles Public Health Department immediately tested the water supply, but told the manager they could stay open as long as they provided bottle water and warned guests not to drink the tap water.
The results of the testing showed no harmful bacteria in the tank or the pipes, according to Angelo Bellomo, director of environmental health for the department. Chlorine in the city’s water may be the reason it is safe, he said.
All of the tanks and pipes in the building still must be drained, flushed and sanitized, Bellomo said. The water will be retested after that process, which should take several days, he said.
The Cecil is billed as a hotel in the heart of L.A.’s action; but, in fact, it is in the heart of Skid Row, one of the most notorious neighborhoods in the world. Serial killer, Richard “Night Stalker” Ramirez stayed there during his 1980’s killing spree during which he murdered 13 people.
The hotel is providing their guests with bottled water and allegedly not offering refunds. If guests decide to stay, they must adhere to a “flush only” order and sign an agreement that absolves the hotel of any liability if they fall ill.