Perfect for fans of shows like ‘Night Stalker’ and ‘The Ripper,’ Netflix’s ‘Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel’ is a documentary series that delves into the bizarre case of Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old Canadian college student who disappeared in early 2013 during her stay at the infamous Cecil Hotel. As mentioned in this four-part series, the downtown Los Angeles budget hotel is just as much of a character as any individual involved in the matter. After all, the Cecil possesses a reputation of being home to some of the creepiest deaths and violent attacks in the area.
How Many People Have Died at the Cecil Hotel?
Violence and spookiness are two aspects that have never been strangers to the Cecil Hotel. Even though it opened in 1927, intending to be the go-to destination for business travelers and tourists alike, as soon as America sank into the Great Depression, the hotel saw a downfall that it could never truly recover from. Rapes, murders, suicides, overdoses, narcotics, gangs, prostitutes, and disappearances – you name it, and the hotel has borne witness to it.
Even after Cecil rebranded and changed its name to Stay on Main in 2011, it couldn’t escape its tragic past and continued to be known for its plethora of deaths. It all started in November 1931, when W. K. Norton, 46, killed himself by ingesting poisonous capsules inside his room. Then, throughout the mid-1900s, more suicides occurred at the Cecil, whether from poison, jumping off the balcony, self-inflicted gunshot wounds, or self-slashing throats.
As per a report, at least 12 suicides have transpired within the walls of the Cecil. Of course, there is also the fact that the hotel became a common ground for illicit activities that are suspected of having led to a few lost lives as well. Even the murder of Elizabeth Short, dubbed “the Black Dahlia,” has been connected to the lodge. In total, approximately 16-18 people have died at the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, California.
Which Serial Killers Lived at the Cecil Hotel?
Two serial killers have called the Cecil Hotel their home for a short while – Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger. Given the moniker of the “Night Stalker,” Richard Ramirez is rumored to have stayed at the hotel for a few weeks while he was on his killing spree. Apparently, with the lodge being near Skid Row and having its wicked reputation, it allowed him “to let his hair down.” As per the Netflix series focused on the Cecil, after Richard completed one of his attacks, he undressed in the nearby alley and walked in wearing nothing but his underwear, without anyone even blinking an eye.
Johann “Jack” Unterweger, an Austrian serial killer who acted in Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and the United States, had come to Los Angeles in 1991 as a journalist to write about the differences in sex work across continents. However, after he contacted the locals to know about Skid Row, prostitution, and all the spots he needed to scope out in the name of research, he went ahead to select his victims instead. And in the short time he spent at the Cecil, he tormented and strangled at least three sex workers to death. Some say that he sought to copy the Night Stalker’s actions.
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