10 Horrifying Events That Happened at the Cecil Hotel

Care to stay the night at this historic and creepy hotel?

10 Horrifying Events That Happened at the Cecil Hotel

The Cecil Hotel opened its doors in 1927 downtown with its primary purpose to attract business people to come and go to Los Angeles. They have a pristine location at 640 S. Downtown, Los Angeles. They initially opened 700 rooms with Art Deco. But, after a while, they had a hard time booking guests to stay in the hotel. Moreover, this was the Great Depression, and more than 10,000 homeless people found shelters near the hotel. So, the once prestigious hotel and the view became crowded and trashed.

The Great Depression and homeless people are only a few of the hotel’s problems. Over time, stories of murder, suicide, and even serial killers going in the hotel are circulating. Thus, giving a bad image to the hotel. There are more scary stories than stories of hospitality in this hotel. After a while, the Cecil Hotel was one of the creepiest hotels in the U.S., and it gained popularity in the stories.

To this day, there are ghost hunting seances and more that people do in this hotel. Although these are only for fun, there is evidence of sightings and paranormal activities in the hotel.

In this article, we will be talking about the creepiest events within the Cecil Hotel walls. Will this spark your interest, or will this be the reason you’ll never check the hotel out? Let’s find out.

1. The Black Dahlia Murder

Elizabeth Short was an aspiring actress hoping for fame and fortune that moved to Los Angeles when she was 22 years old. She posses a black book with 75 names of men, which was common practice for women to date for dinner in 1940s Los Angeles. Her untimely death is linked to Cecil Hotel because somebody spotted her there not long after her death.

Her body found mutilated, drained of blood, and cut in half. The authorities thought she looked like a mannequin at first glance due to how mutilated her body looked. Her killer remains unidentified, and the murder links to Cecil Hotel because of its reputation. More than 20 people confessed that they murdered the girl. Still, a strong suspect with evidence pointed to a doctor named George Hodel could be the right person. After interrogation, he fled America after being questioned. To this day, the ‘Black Dahlia’ murder case remains unsolved.

2. Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez

One of Cecil Hotel’s infamous visitors is the Night Stalker. Known as Richard Ramirez “The Night Stalker,” he often stayed at the Cecil Hotel when he was stalking the streets of Los Angeles and San Fransisco. He would often stalk women and come into their homes to murder them. Richard Ramirez was known to be a Satanist and performed rituals during the murders. His weapons choice varied from guns, knives, machetes, fists, and even a hammer to kill his victims.

How could he afford a room in the prestigious hotel, right? From 1984 to 1985, the rooms at the hotel cost $14 a night. The Cecil Hotel’s area was full of junkies giving Ramirez an easier way to lurk around the night without giving any attention.

Richard Ramirez was found guilty and died on death row at the age of 53. He had killed at least 14 people and tortured more than a dozen people before being arrested and tried for murder. He is one of the most famous serial killers in history, where many books and films are loosely based on his story.

3. The Death of Elisa Lam

Elisa Lam was a 21-year-old college student who traveled from Vancouver to Los Angeles in 2013 and stayed at the hotel. After hotel guests complained about the low water pressure and the water’s weird taste, management decided to investigate. Maintenance worker Santiago Lopez went to the hotel’s roof and found Elisa Lam’s dead, naked body floating in the hotel water tanks. Her clothes laid nearby the area. After the investigation, the police released the CCTV footage of Elisa hours before her said death.

Sometime shortly after, Elisa’s family filed for a missing person’s case. Police have searched the hotel, even the rooftop, to find no signs of Elisa. Then came the hotel’s complaints claiming that the sink water ould run black then goes back to normal after a few seconds. Another complaint was that the tap water tasted weird.

The CCTV footage showed Elise entering the elevator in a hurry. Also, she was frantically pressing the buttons on the elevator. Elisa was checking outside to see if someone was coming after her. She looked distressed, tired, and scared.

In later reports, there were claims that Elisa was bipolar and her behavior in the CCTV footage proves this to be true. But, her family and friends were still determined to find out what happened to her and exerted all their efforts to bring her justice. To this day, this case remains unsolved.

4. Paranormal Activity

Known for its haunting stories, and people have come and gone to this hotel to experience it for themselves. But, there is one specific ghost sighting that the media covered in 2014. A young boy was out with his friend and passed by the Cecil Hotel. He claimed to be creeped out when he looked at the hotel and casually took a picture of the façade. Upon revealing the picture to his friend, they saw that there was an apparition in the picture.

The picture shows an almost transparent human figure standing on the ledge of one of the windows on the hotel’s 4th floor. The shape of the apparition looks like it’s about to jump off the window. Many newspapers and other media released the picture, and it went viral. The boy claimed that he felt creeped out when he took a picture, and once he saw the picture, he had many sleepless nights.

This is only one of many paranormal activities recorded in this hotel. If you go on the internet, you’ll find more recordings of videos and pictures taken that prove that there is something otherworldly going on inside the hotel. Is it dangerous? Maybe. Should you avoid it? It is up to you.

5. High Profile Killers

Cecil Hotel Building
Cecil Hotel Building

As said before, the Cecil Hotel was home to murderers and serial killers. Throughout the history of the hotel, you’ll learn that there were countless deaths and mysterious happenings inside the hotel. In 1976, Jeffrey Thomas Paley went up to the hotel’s rooftop with a firearm and started shooting the street below. He claimed that he did not intend to hurt anyone and that that was only an act to prove to the police how easy it is to buy firearms in Los Angeles. He was a patient in a mental hospital, and his arrest took place after the said event.

In 1988, another arrest happened in the hotel. Robert Sullivan was only 28 years old when authorities arrested him for the murder of his 32-year-old wife. His wife’s body was found dead in the house they were living in, and the pieces of evidence pointed towards Robert, who was staying at the hotel during that time.

These are only a few of a long list of names linked to crimes and chose the Cecil Hotel as their fortress before they got arrested.

6. The 1930s Suicides

The LA Times Newspaper Clip 19 Nov 1931
The LA Times Newspaper Clip 19 Nov 1931. View the newspaper clip online here.

The Cecil Hotel was also famous for the long list of suicides within the hotel’s walls. The first recorded suicide was in 1931. W.K. Norton was found dead inside his hotel room from eating poison capsules. He was 46 years old then. The following year, Benjamin Dodich was found dead by one of the hotel maids. He had a gunshot wound on his head, and police believed he killed himself.

In 1934, Louis D. Borden, a former Army Medical Corps Seargent, was found dead with a slash wound on his throat. Suicide notes were also found scattered around his room. In 1937, she jumped from a 9th-floor window after wrapping her throat with telephone wires. Another suicide victim happened later that year, and the list goes on. Many believed that these suicides were linked to the Great Depression and these people found solace in the hotel.

7. Jack Unterweger

In the early 90s, Jack Unterweger was a guest of the Cecil Hotel. He was an Austrian journalist that worked for an Austrian company that focuses on writing stories about L.A. crimes. It’s reported that he killed 11 prostitutes, strangling them to death using their lingerie while he was still in Vienna.

Three distinct murders are similar to how he murdered back in Austria, and he was right under the LAPD’s nose. Although he was imprisoned before moving to L.A., he was ‘resocialized’ and was free. But, he was arrested again in Miami. In 1994 and was sentenced to death in Austria. He hung himself on the night before his death penalty with the same knots he used on his victims.

8. Baby Out the Window

Mother's hands holding a newborn baby
Mother’s hands holding a newborn baby

In 1944, a 19-year-old Dorothy Jean Purcell checked in the Cecil Hotel with her 38-year-old partner. In the middle of the night, she ad severe stomach pain. After all, she was giving birth because she did not know she was pregnant. Not wanting to wake her partner, she delivered her baby in the bathroom.

She then thought her baby was dead and proceeded to throw the baby out the window of their hotel room. Someone found the lifeless body of the baby on a roof adjacent to their room. She was arrested but was found mentally unstable. She was found not guilty for reason of insanity after psychologists proved that she was mentally ill. There are no known reports about Dorothy Jean Purcell and her partner and how they coped with their child’s death.

9. “Pigeon” Goldie

Newspaper clipping about “Pigeon” Georgina Goldie Osgood
Newspaper clipping about “Pigeon” Georgina Goldie Osgood

Another unsolved case inside the Cecil Hotel is the murder of Pigeon Goldie. Pigeon Goldie was a familiar face around the hotel. Know for her kind demeanor and her love for the pigeons in the area. She would often feed the birds and also protected them. One day, she was found dead inside her room in the hotel. She was assaulted, stabbed, and strangled to death. This news was a shock to everyone.

There was one person who was a suspect and later on got arrested for this murder. Jacques B. Ehlinger was a 29-year-old man roaming around Persing Square, where Pigeon Goldie used to be seen. He was wearing bloodied clothes and charged with her murder. There was no substantial evidence to back up this claim, and authorities released him from custody. To this day, there have been no new reports about this mystery.

10. George Giannini

Looking up the Cecil Hotel from the bottom
Looking up the Cecil Hotel from the bottom

George Giannini’s death was a case of bad luck. It all started when a 29-year-old Pauline Otton and her estranged husband checked in the hotel and started arguing in their room. She became so upset that she wrote a suicide note and jumped out of their 9th-floor window. Gianinni, at that time, was walking directly below her. She landed on top of her, and the two of them died on the scene.

At first, the police thought of it as a double suicide case. Upon investigating, authorities noticed that Giannini’s hands were still inside his pants’ pockets, which was a gesture that he was walking. It would be impossible to leave your hands inside your pocket while falling nine stories. Later on, the police ruled out the double suicide and discovered that the suicide of Pauline Otton caused the accidental death of George Giannini.


Thrill-seekers and paranormal enthusiasts have since been visiting the Cecil Hotel up to this day. With many unexplained and tragic events going on, many stories circulated the said hotel. People believe that the hotel is hunted or cursed. Now, the hotel earns through these stories.

Are you one of the thrill-seekers who would want to stay one night in the hotel?

Many have tried, and there are many reports about ghost apparitions and other paranormal activities going on. The Cecil Hotel has become an inspiration to some of the best movies, series, documentaries, and books today.

American Horror Story, an American series about witches, ghosts, and deaths, has an entire season revolving around the hotel’s story. Of course, they added a little twist. People in the film industry have been making money off the stories and real events in the hotel. For some, it is entertaining, but it is disrespectful to the people who lost their lives in the hotel.

What are your thoughts about the Cecil Hotel and its disturbing past? Would you be willing to go inside this creepy yet famous hotel? Let us know by commenting below.

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