The Cecil Hotel located on Skid Row in Los Angeles CA, has one of the most tragic, and violent histories of any operating hotel in the United States. A hotel like the Burlington Hotel in Port Costa seems to attract negativity and has been the site of multiple high-profile suicides, and murders.
It is no wonder why many people believe that the Cecil Hotel property is haunted by ghosts, cursed, and possessed by a demonic entity. Some of the haunting tales from the hotel were also recently portrayed in FX’s American Horror story recently as well.
Hotel Cecil Paranormal Investigation Video ..Playing Ouija in Elisa Lams Room
In December 2014, we got the opportunity to investigate the hotel room where Elisa Lam stayed before she mysteriously disappeared, and was later found in Hotel Cecil’s water tank. Her death to this day is still unsolved, and many people believe that there are paranormal causes that can be attributed to it.
We thought it would be a good idea to use the Ouija Board, and we were shocked at some of the answers that we received. I firmly believe that the responses that we captured in Elisa Lams room were not from Elisa but rather from an evil presence that resides in the hotel. Later in the video, we also got to investigate the elevator which many people believe is haunted as well.
The Tragic and Violent History of the Cecil Hotel
As the area where the Cecil Hotel is located began to decline (Skid Row Los Angeles), suicides and other violent deaths on the premises became more frequent. The first documented suicide at the Cecil was reported in 1931 when a guest named W.K. Norton died in his room after taking poison capsules. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, more suicides at the Cecil occurred. By the 1960s, longtime residents had begun to call the Cecil “The Suicide.”
In addition to suicides, Cecil’s history includes other kinds of violence and salacious happenings. It also became a notorious rendezvous spot for adulterous couples, drug activity, and prostitution. In 1947 Elizabeth Short, dubbed by the media as the Black Dahlia, was rumored to have been spotted drinking at Cecil’s bar in the days before her notorious and, to date, unsolved murder.
In 1964 a retired telephone operator named “Pigeon Goldie” Osgood, who had been a well-known and well-liked long-term resident at the hotel was found dead in her room. She had been raped, stabbed, and beaten, and her room ransacked. A man named Jacques B. Ehlinger was charged with Osgood’s murder, but he was later cleared; her death remains unsolved.
Perhaps most infamously, in the 1980s the hotel was rumored to be the residence of serial killer Richard Ramirez, nicknamed the “Night Stalker.” Ramirez had been a regular presence on the skid row area of Los Angeles, but, according to a hotel clerk who claims to have spoken to him, is rumored to have stayed at the Cecil for a few weeks. Ramirez may have engaged in part of his killing spree while staying there. Another serial killer, Austrian Jack Unterweger, stayed at the Cecil in 1991, possibly as an homage to Ramirez. While there, he strangled and killed at least three prostitutes, for which he was convicted in Austria. He hanged himself shortly after his conviction.
In 2013 the Cecil (by then re-branded as the “Stay on Main” although still maintaining the original Hotel Cecil signs and painted advertisements on its exterior) became
the focus of renewed attention when surveillance footage of a young Canadian student, Elisa Lam, behaving erratically in the hotel’s elevator went viral. The video depicts Lam repeatedly pressing the elevator’s buttons, walking in and out of the elevator, and possibly attempting to hide from someone. It was recorded shortly before her disappearance; her naked body was subsequently discovered in a water supply cistern on the hotel roof, following complaints from residents of odd-tasting water and low pressure. Why and how she got into a cistern, which was atop the roof and could only be accessed by taking a stairway to the roof and then climbing a ladder to the tank’s covered top, remain a mystery. The Los Angeles County Coroner ruled her death accidental due to drowning, with bipolar disorder being a “significant” factor.
List of Deaths at the Hotel Cecil
- On November 19, 1931, Manhattan Beach resident W. K. Norton, 46, was found dead in his room after ingesting poison capsules. A week prior, Norton had checked into the Cecil under the name “James Willys,” from Chicago. Norton’s death appears to be the earliest known suicide at the hotel.
- In September 1932, a maid found Benjamin Dodich, 25, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He did not leave a suicide note.
- In late July 1934, former Army Medical Corps Sgt. Louis D. Borden, 53, was found dead in his room at the Cecil. He had slashed his throat with a razor. Borden left several notes, one of which cited poor health as the reason for his suicide.
- In March 1937, Grace E. Magro fell from a ninth story window. Her fall was broken by telephone wires which were wrapped around her body. She later died at the now-demolished Georgia Street Receiving Hospital. Police were unable to determine whether Magro’s death was the result of an accident or suicide.
- In January 1938, Marine fireman Roy Thompson, 35, jumped from Cecil’s top floor and was found on the skylight of a neighboring building. He had been staying at the Cecil for several weeks.
- In May 1939, Navy officer Erwin C. Neblett, 39, was found dead in his room after ingesting poison.
- In January 1940, teacher Dorothy Sceiger, 45, ingested poison while staying at the Cecil and was reported by the Los Angeles Times to be “near death.” No further reports were published about Sceiger’s condition.
- In September 1944, Dorothy Jean Purcell, 19, was sharing a room at the Cecil with shoe salesman Ben Levine, 38. Purcell, who had apparently been unaware that she was pregnant, went into labor. Purcell later testified that she did not want to disrupt a sleeping Levine, so she went to the bathroom where she gave birth to a baby boy. Thinking the baby was dead, Purcell threw him out of the window where he landed on the roof of an adjacent building. Purcell was charged with murder. Three psychiatrists (then known as “alienists”) testified that Purcell was “mentally confused” at the time of the incident. In January 1945, she was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
- In November 1947, Robert Smith, 35, died after jumping from one of Cecil’s seventh-floor windows.
- On October 22, 1954, San Francisco stationery firm employee Helen Gurnee, 55, jumped from the window of her seventh-floor room and landed on top of Cecil’s marquee. One week prior, she had registered at the hotel under the name “Margaret Brown.”
- On February 11, 1962, Julia Frances Moore, 50, jumped from the window of her eighth-floor room and landed in a second-story interior light well. Moore did not leave a suicide note. Among her possessions were a bus ticket from St. Louis, 59 cents in change, and an Illinois bank book showing a balance of $1,800.
- On October 12, 1962, Pauline Otton, 27, jumped from the window of her ninth floor room after an argument with her estranged husband Dewey. Dewey had left the room prior to Otton’s suicide. Otton landed on a pedestrian, George Gianinni, 65, killing them both instantly. As there were no witnesses, police initially thought Otton and Gianinni committed suicide together. However, it was soon determined that Gianinni had his hands in his pockets at the time of his death and he was still wearing shoes. Had he jumped, his shoes would have likely fallen off during the fall or upon impact.
- On June 4, 1964, a hotel worker discovered “Pigeon Goldie” Osgood, a retired telephone operator, dead in her room. She had been raped, stabbed and beaten and her room was ransacked. Osgood was well known around the area and had earned her nickname because she fed birds in nearby Pershing Square
- Near her body was the Los Angeles Dodgers cap she always wore and a paper sack full of birdseed. Hours after her murder, Jacques B. Ehlinger, 29, was seen walking through Pershing Square, the area in which Osgood fed birds, in bloodstained clothing. He was arrested and charged with Osgood’s murder, but was later cleared of the crime. Osgood’s murder remains unsolved.
- On December 20, 1975, a still unidentified woman jumped from her twelfth-floor window onto the Cecil’s second-floor roof. She had registered at the hotel on December 16.
- On February 19, 2013, the naked body of Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old Canadian student, was found inside one of the water supply tanks on the hotel roof. Lam had gone missing almost three weeks earlier, on January 31, 2013. Her decomposing body was discovered by a maintenance worker in one of the rooftop water tanks after guests had complained about low water pressure and water that “tasted funny”. Authorities later ruled Lam’s death as an accidental drowning. Video surveillance footage taken from inside an elevator shortly before her disappearance showed Lam acting strangely, pressing multiple elevator buttons, hiding in the corner of the elevator, and waving her arms wildly, causing widespread speculation about the cause of her death. After the elevator video was made public, many theories arose about Lam’s death. Lam was reported to have had bipolar disorder, for which she was prescribed various medications, which could have contributed to her death as well as her strange behavior in the elevator.
- On June 13, 2015, the body of a 28-year-old male was found outside the hotel. Some conjectured he may have committed suicide by jumping from the hotel, though a spokesperson for the county coroner informed the Los Angeles Times that the cause of death had not been determined.