Laden with suicides, disappearances, murders, and mysterious deaths, downtown L.A.’s Cecil Hotel is a mainstay for paranormal research in L.A.
Built in 1924 by a hotelier named William Banks Hanner, the Cecil hotel was planned to be a 600 room luxury getaway, with stained glass and marble lining the walls. Hanner hoped that the building would attract tourists and businessmen alike, and the Cecil Hotel thrived instantly when they opened their doors in 1927.
After the roaring 20s, the economic bubble popped and plummeted America into the Great Depression. Areas around the Cecil Hotel started to lose income, and the hotel was forced to lower their prices due to lack of demand. The hotel turned into a front for prostitution, drug use, violence, and suicide.
The first suicide that occurred at the Cecil Hotel was by a 46-year-old man named W.K. Norton, who checked in under the name James Willys. After he got to his room, Norton took a large number of unknown pills and died in his room. This got the ball rolling for a long series of suicides, a year later Benjamin Dodich shot himself in the head and was found dead by a maid. A former Army Medical Sargent named Louis D. Borden was found dead in his room with his throat slit. Grace E. Magro and Roy E. Thompson both threw themselves off the roof.
There have been numerous suicides around the Hotel Cecil, the latest being in 2015. The hotel has also had its fair share of grisly murders and connections to serial killers as well. The Cecil Hotel staff was interrogated because of their potential connection with the Black Dahlia murders
In the 1980s, Richard Ramirez, typically known as the Night-Stalker, spent a fair deal of time staying in the hotel after he would bind, rape, and brutally murder his victims. He would even sometimes throw his bloody clothes away in the hotel’s dumpster.
Probably the most modern and bizarre occurrence there was the disappearance of Elisa Lam. Lam was a 21-year-old Canadian college student who stayed at the hotel for one night. When she didn’t return home the next day, her parents called the police. Nobody could find her until nearly a month later, one guest was complaining about his water pressure being low. After inspecting the water tower on the roof, Elisa’s body was found floating naked in one of the tanks. Some say she committed suicide, but others suspect that this was due to paranormal forces at work.
Guests have been continually complaining about paranormal experiences in the hotel, none of them were particularly aggressive. Guests have complained that their sheets would get tugged off their beds at night, and some would occasionally see dark figures in the hallways and rooms. Some claim that Elisa Lam was possessed by the spirit of Richard Ramirez, who was evidently a satanist and practiced in the hotel while he stayed there.