Hotel Cecil, Guests complain about rancid tasting water.
A body was found in a water tank belonging to Hotel Cecil, it was of missing woman, Elisa Lam, and was discovered on Tuesday. Authorities are investigating whether she was murdered or it was an accident.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials issued a do-not-drink order while its laboratory analyzed the water, said Terrance Powell, the director who is coordinating the department’s response. The disclosure contradicts a previous police statement that the water was deemed safe. Results of the testing were expected Thursday morning.
“Our biggest concern is going to be faecal contamination, because of the human remains in the water,” Powell said. He further commented that the likelihood of contamination is “minimal” given the large amount of water the body was found in, but the department is being extra cautious.
Powell said the water from that tank was also used for cooking, and the coffee shop in the hotel would remain closed. They have been instructed to sanitize its cooking equipment before reopening.
Powell said the hotel hired a water treatment specialist after the department required it to disinfect its plumbing lines.
“The moment we found out, we felt a bit sick to the stomach, quite literally, especially having drank the water, we’re not well mentally,” Michael Baugh, 27-years-old, said.
The laboratory who are testing the water, estimate the results to be ready by Thursday.
LAPD Sgt. Rudy Lopez, called it suspicious and said a coroner’s investigation will determine Lam’s cause of death. Shortly before she died, surveillance cameras captured images of the hotel were the 21-year-old was seen pressing the elevator buttons and looking outwards, turning her gaze to the right and the left. Lam, a native of Vancouver, traveled alone to Los Angeles on January 26, and the last time she was seen alive, was five days later by hotel workers.
The water tanks are mounted on a platform about 3 meters (10 feet) above the roof. To reach the tanks, someone would have to go to the top floor, then climb the stairs and go through doors that are protected by alarms.
Another ladder, would have to be taken to the platform and a person would have to climb the side of the tank. The opening at the top of the tanks cistern is too small to accommodate firefighters and equipment, so they had to cut a hole in the storage tank to recover Lam’s body.
Lam intended to travel to Santa Cruz, about 350 miles north of Los Angeles. Officials said she tended to use public transportation and had been in touch with her family daily, until she disappeared.
Los Angeles police investigators searched the roof of the Hotel Cecil with the aid of dogs, when Lam was reported missing about three weeks ago. Lopez said he didn’t know if the tanks were examined.
“We did a very thorough search of the hotel,” he said. “But we didn’t search every room, we could only do that if we had probable cause” that a crime had been committed. “The location of the water tanks is very small and configured in a very tight way so it’s a little more difficult to get the body out,” Faden said.
The Hotel Cecil is located in downtown Los Angeles, which has long struggled against the creeping destitution of nearby Skid Row, where drug addiction and homelessness is rampant. At the time of Lam’s disappearance, police said it appeared suspicious.
The Cecil also became a magnet for criminal activity. Most notably it was the occasional home to infamous serial killers Jack Unterweger and Richard “Night Stalker” Ramirez. Even after a multimillion-dollar makeover in 2008, police said they frequently responded to the Cecil for calls relating to domestic abuse and narcotics.
In 2010, the hotel was the scene of a bizarre incident in which a Los Angeles city firefighter, who had been honored as paramedic of the year said he was stabbed, while responding to a distress call. But police found inconsistencies in the story and no assailant was ever located.
A call to the hotel seeking comment was not immediately returned. It was built-in the 1920s and refurbished several years ago. Police said there have been reports of criminal activity at the site.