Cecil Hotel: Death, Serial Killers and Ghosts in Los Angeles

Cecil Hotel: Death, Serial Killers and Ghosts in Los Angeles

Cecil Hotel Deaths

It would be difficult to find a hotel with more notoriety than the Cecil in Los Angeles or the entire United States for that matter. The Cecil Hotel solidified its status in pop culture in the darkest of ways. Opening in 1927 the building was designed to radiate opulence but was to soon fall into disarray, gaining a negative reputation.

Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles.
The notoriously haunted Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles.

What was to truly gain the public’s attention of the Cecil Hotel was the number of deaths that have been experienced within the building. The hotel’s long list of passings commenced in 1931 when a 46-year-old man committed suicide by consuming poison capsules. Tragically, many more people checked in to the Cecil to end their lives. Others were to also consume poison, jump from great heights and use guns or razors within the hotel to inflict their own deaths.

Cecil Hotel haunted Los Angeles.
The marque on the Cecil Hotel, thought to the most haunted hotels in Los Angeles.

While the Cecil Hotel became a popular destination for suicides, it has also seen murders within its walls. In 1944 Dorothy Purcell gave birth to an infant child, only to assume the baby died during birth and throw him out of a hotel window. Later, in 1964, another woman known affectionately as “Pigeon Goldie” Osgood, for feeding birds in a nearby square, was also murdered. She had been brutally raped and stabbed within her room. Her killer was never found.

Killers at the Cecil

Although the Cecil seemed to be a type of magnet for those with suicidal tendencies, it has also been known to attract serial killers and in some cases, their victims.

Art decor in the haunted hotel.
Opulent decor lining the ceiling of this now disheveled hotel.

Richard Ramirez, dubbed the Night Stalker, terrorized California during the 1980s, committing a number of brutal murders across the state before being arrested. It is rumored that Ramirez spent some time during 1985 living at the Cecil Hotel, likely during his killing spree. Later, in 1991, Jack Unterweger also stayed at the Cecil Hotel. Unterweger was an Austrian serial killer who is thought to have specifically stayed at the Cecil Hotel in the hope of replicating Ramirez’s murders.

Haunted hotel in California.
Looking up at one of the most haunted hotels in California.

Though not a serial killer, Elizabeth Short also famously drank at the Cecil Hotel just days before her own death. Short was to be murdered soon after, becoming the victim of one of the best known unsolved crimes in Los Angeles history, referred to as the Black Dahlia Murder.

The Cecil Hotel and Elisa Lam

Despite the many other deaths that occurred in the hotel, none captured the attention of the public quite as much as that of Elisa Lam’s. In 2013 the naked body of 21-year-old Elisa Lam was located in a water tank on top of the Cecil Hotel’s roof. Her body was located after maintenance were instructed to check out the water system following a number of complaints made about the hotel’s water tasting funny.

Since the discovery of her body, the public found intrigue in the mysteries that made this case so strange. It was unclear as to whether Lam’s death was the result of foul play or some bizarre accident. Surveillance footage of Lam’s final moments from within the hotel was to go viral across the internet.

Stay on Main haunted hotel in Los Angeles.
The Cecil Hotel now named the Stay on Main.

Video of Lam acting incredibly strange within the Cecil Hotel only lead to more questions about her death. The video shows Lam attempting to operate the hotel’s elevator, yet having an incredible amount of difficulty as it appears to malfunction. As this occurs, Lam seems on edge, constantly peering outside of the elevator doors. She looks concerned as if she is attempting to evade someone. It has been speculated that Lam was being chased, that she was on drugs, experienced some form of psychotic break or was even playing the popular paranormal game known simply as the ‘elevator game.’ Many aspects of Lam’s death remain a mystery to this day and no one truly knows what transpired during Lam’s final moments within the Cecil Hotel.

One of the darkest hotels in the USA.
The historic Cecil Hotel, a place where many dark deeds have occurred.

Cecil Hotel Haunted

The Cecil Hotel has been completely saturated by death and it comes as no surprise to learn that many people consider it to be one of the most haunted places in the country. So many who have stayed at the hotel have claimed to encounter the paranormal. The hotel was even used as the inspiration for the American Horror Story TV series “Hotel,” which only further added to the Cecil’s notoriety.

Cecil Hotel history.
Staring at the haunted Cecil Hotel from a safe distance.

Some guests who have stayed overnight at the hotel have claimed to encounter apparitions and shadow figures. Some of these have even been photographed, perhaps most disturbing are those which have been snapped departing the building via the upper floor windows.

Visiting the Cecil Hotel

The Cecil Hotel was renamed to the Stay on Main by new management. It seems this could have been in an attempt to distance its brand from its unsavory past. When I last visited the hotel was closed for seismic upgrades, it still does not appear to have reopened to the public.

Details in Cecil Hotel.
Looking up at the details that adorn the Cecil Hotel.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also be interested in other haunted places in Los Angeles.

Thanks for reading!


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About Amy

Amy is a world traveller and explorer of creepy locations. She has visited some of the most famously haunted places around the world in search of evidence of the paranormal. Follow Amy's Journey:

Comments (4)

  • John E. Cochran III

    Posted by John E. Cochran III on January 19, 2020

    You should do the waverly hills sanatorium


      Posted by Amy on January 20, 2020

      Thank you so much for the suggestion, John! I really hope I get the chance to visit one day.

  • Walt

    Posted by Walt on January 25, 2020

    I enjoyed the read, very nicely done article. I am also a fan of your YouTube channel. Keep up the great work!


      Posted by Amy on January 27, 2020

      Hi Walt! So cool to hear that you enjoy both my Youtube channel and my website! I appreciate the comment.

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