This week we hear about Alanna’s unfortunate experience with a smoothie and catch up with the Murder Friends. We discuss the shooting of Lady Gaga’s dog walker and review the new Netflix docu-series, Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel. Hannah then shares a story of a cock fight gone wrong!
CRIME SCENE: THE VANISHING AT THE CECIL HOTEL
The series seemed to be really popular and accessible to those who normally don’t watch this stuff.
I watched the whole thing, but I have FEELINGS.
So I thought I’d go through and do a quick re-cap and the I’d love to know what you guys thought. This is your warning, there will be spoilers.
The show is a 4-part documentary, each episode is an hour. 4 hours. First off, we could have done this in half the amount of time. More on that later.
The story follows Elisa Lam, a Canadian student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. At 21 years old, she sets off for a solo trip down into California. She eventually finds herself in LA staying at the Cecil Hotel. She vanishes.
If we jump through some of the show’s padding, we eventually learn that Elisa was found dead, naked in a water tank on the roof of the hotel.
That’s the basis of the story and the documentary goes into a lot of extra detail which some was interesting and some was completely overkill.
We learn a lot about the hotel itself, how it’s in an area of LA called Skid Row, one of the most poor and dangerous areas in the US. The rate of crime, homelessness, addiction, prostitution, etc is overwhelming. A lot of cops will drop off criminals in this area to keep them out of the better areas around LA.
I get why we hear this background – some people believe that it was a person from this area that hurt Elisa, maybe lured her into the water tank, although no real evidence of this is found.
We also go into details of serial killers who stayed at the hotel – most notably Richard Ramirez (aka “The Night Stalker”) who stayed at the hotel during the height of his killing spree. This stuff felt padded. Please just carry on.
Another theory is that Elisa met someone while travelling and they hurt her, but again – no evidence is found.
Eventually, after quite a lot of padding, we learn more about Elisa mental health. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression and there’s mention that she was taking less of her needed medications. It’s believed that she could have been having some type of mental health crisis, feeling like she was in danger or someone wanted to harm her – causing her to hide in the water tank. But once she was in the tank, there was no getting out. She may have taken off her clothes to help her tread water better as well.
All in all it’s really sad.
The bit about this case that always kept it a mystery for me is that there’s mention of the water tank lid. We hear that it was CLOSED was she was found. The lid isn’t on a hinge, it’s a really heavy piece of metal that is placed over the opening. Once in the tank, there’s no way you’d be able to close it. But in the final minutes of the show, we learn that this was a miscommunication. The lid was OPEN when she was found. Making it possible that she got in herself and was obviously unable to close the lid, or her potenial murderer didn’t close it.
We also learn that her body had no obvious signs of trauma. If someone killed her and dragged her body to the water tank, it would be covered in marks. It’s quite a trek up there.
A lot of people have heard this story because the police release video footage of Elisa in the hotel elevator, acting really strange and erratic. She pressed a bunch of buttons. She jumps in and out of the elevator. At one point, it looks like she’s talking to someone out of frame. She moves her hands in a really creepy way. She eventually leaves the elevator and disappears out of frame.
Now because this video clip was released, it went viral online. EVERYone was talking about it, watching it, making their own predictions. Even my partner who is not into true crime had already seen the video.
And this is one of the most annoying parts of this whole show – we probably spend over an hour talking with, what they call “internet sleuths” which are really just armchair detectives or Youtubers.
We even see one girl who’s like “I’ve read lots of autopsy reports and Elisa’s didn’t make any sense” Like honey WHO ARE YOU. We spend SO MUCH TIME on these people and it drove me nuts.
I get why these interviews are included – people went WILD online. It’s part of the story overall.
But it could have been a 10 min section rather than give these interviews SO MUCH TIME. It also felt like some of these people perhaps were dealing with mental health issues and it felt gross to be exploiting them? One “internet sleuth” they interview constantly was talking about how he was “in between jobs” and spent thousands of hours researching the case, watching the press conferences, watching the elevator video. Even went to the hotel numerous times, “to see if I could find something the police missed” He even got someone to visit Elisa’s grave and record it for him because he felt like he needed to see it. From a human standpoint, it felt really exploitative of people who were potentially vulnerable. From a viewer standpoint, it was really annoying to have to listen to random people talk like they know everything.
There’s a whole like, 25 mins talking about the “mystery” of why the elevator doors don’t close the whole time Elisa is in it. So many interviews with internet sleuths who made their predictions. Turns out, when Elisa hit all the buttons, she hit “door open” which keeps the door open for 2 mins. Done. Solved. Spend 25 mins on it, though.
All in all – great drone footage, interesting interviews with some people. Extremely padded. Hated the internet sleuths.
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