The body of a Canadian tourist was found in a water tank of a downtown Los Angeles hotel, from which guests had been receiving water for possibly up to three weeks.
Authorities have confirmed that the body recovered from one of the four water tanks at the Cecil Hotel Tuesday is that of Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old University of British Columbia student who was reported missing Feb. 1.
The Los Angeles Times reports that her body was discovered by a hotel worker who was examining the tanks after guests complained of weak water pressure.
An autopsy planned for Thursday will determine whether there are any signs of trauma on her body, but anonymous sources say investigators believe her death may have been accidental.
Police question how Lam got into the roof, where the water tanks are located, as it is only accessible through a locked door or a fire escape. An alarm notifies hotel staff if someone is in the area, according to the Daily Mail.
The tank itself was situated in such a way that made it difficult for the body to be extricated, police spokeswoman Officer Sara Faden said.
The Vancouver native had traveled alone to Los Angeles on Jan. 26 and reportedly kept in contact with her family daily until Jan. 31, when she was last seen at the hotel.
Amid the investigation, police have accessed hotel surveillance video that show Lam acting oddly while in an elevator. She was hiding in a corner and peering out into the hallway from the elevator several times.
According to the Mail, she never checked out of the hotel, which is known for having been home to several serial killers as Richard Ramirez, who was dubbed the “Night Stalker,” and Jack Unterweger, believed to have killed between 10 and 15 prostitutes in Europe and the U.S.
Guests of the Cecil Hotel now suspect that they have been ingesting the water in which Lam’s body floated. Several tourists expressed shock.
“The water did have a funny taste. We never thought anything of it. We thought it was just the way it was here,” Sabrina Baugh, a tourist from Britain, told CNN.
"The shower was awful," she continued. "When you turned the tap on, the water was coming black first for two seconds and then it was going back to normal."
Baugh and her husband, Michael had been saying at the hotel for eight days.
“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 told the news source.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials report that they are currently testing the water for contamination, and have issued a do-not-drink order for the hotel while the investigation continues.
According to the Mail, the tank in which Lam was found provides water for the taps and showers in the hotel rooms, as well as a coffee shop and the kitchen downstairs.
“Our biggest concern is going to be fecal contamination because of the body in the water,” said Terrance Powell, department of public health director.
It is unknown how long Lam’s body had been in the water tank.
According to CBS News, the Cecil Hotel relocated guests in 27 rooms to another hotel on Wednesday. Guests in 11 rooms have opted to continue their stay, but Powell notes that they were required to sign a waiver acknowledging that they have been informed of the health risks and were being provided bottled water.
Fionna Agomuoh is a Technology Reporter for the International Business Times, a vegan foodie, and a lover of Electric Dance Music.