The Darkness Contained in The Cecil Hotel
The hotel has claimed many lives and housed serial killers.
Many people may not have heard of the Cecil Hotel, before the recent Netflix documentary. The dark malevolence that comes from the place seems to seep from every corridor. Elisa Lam is the most infamous death there, but it certainly isn't the only one.
Construction of Cecil Hotel
The hotel was opened in 1924, at a time when prosperity was high in America. Los Angeles especially was considered a boomtown. At the time, it cost over $1 million to build, an extreme amount in those times. It hosted 700 rooms and was considered a travellers hotel, with its close location to main transport routes.
When the great depression hit in the 1930s though, it would change the fate of the Cecil Hotel forever. The clientele in the hotel changed to older men, who were down on their luck and for whatever reason needed a place to hide.
The Clientele of the Cecil
The clientele has not overly improved since. The hotel is located on Skid Row which means that many of the customers are from this area of town. Skid Row is an extremely dangerous part of LA, that is home to the homeless, drug dealers and prostitutes. The area is fifty-six blocks of the poorest in the entire world. It is thought to house between 8000 and 10 000 homeless.
When people are released from prison or mental health institutes, they are dropped off in Skid Row. The police established a border between it and the other districts. They patrol the border to keep people from leaving. There are few rules in Skid Row and many deaths. The council stipulated that a certain percentage of the 700 rooms should be allocated to those who could not obtain apartment living. These occupy several of the floors within the Cecil.
The Cecil does not ask for ID, so can be home to anyone from serial killers to sex offenders. People go to the Cecil to hide. Many past residents state that they were afraid to go above the sixth floor for fear of their life. Many who got lost on their way, faced the prospect of being beaten and thrown from an upper floor window.
Amy Price the manager from 2007 - 2017 described it as a 'flophouse.' In the ten years she worked there she reported some eighty deaths. Many cases for me stand out to demonstrate the dark malevolence that surrounds the Cecil Hotel.
The first suicide to occur at the Cecil Hotel was in 1927, three years after it opened. Percy Ormond Cook shot himself after he failed to reconcile with his wife. He was fifty-two.
In the 1930s alone more than six people took their life there. Methods of suicide including poison, shooting and jumping from one of the fifteen floors.
In 1934, Sergeant Louis D Borden was found dead in room fifty-three. He had taken his own life by slashing his throat with a razor. Borden left several notes, one of which cited poor health as the reason for his suicide.
In 1944, Dorothy Jean Purcell booked herself into the hotel with her thirty-eight-year-old boyfriend. She was nineteen. At the time she had no idea she was pregnant. During the night she started having stomach pains and gave birth to a baby boy in the bathroom. Taking the infant she threw him out of the window onto the roof of the building opposite. She would claim she thought he was dead. She was charged with his murder but found not guilty for reasons of insanity
In the 1960s, the residents would refer to the ‘insanity within its walls.’
In 1963, Pauline Otton murdered a pedestrian, landing on him as she jumped to her death. After an argument with her estranged husband Dewey, he left the room, she jumped. Otton landed on Gianinni killing them both instantly.
Due to the lack of witnesses, it was originally thought they jumped together. However, it didn't take long to establish that Gianinni had his hands in his pockets when he died and was wearing shoes. Had he jumped his shoes would have fallen off and his hands would have come out of his pockets.
In 1964, Goldie Osgood, known as Pigeon from her love of feeding them, would be found dead. The retired telephone operator was found raped, strangled and fatally stabbed in her room. The room had been ransacked. Despite a suspect being seen shortly after, covered in blood, the case remains unsolved.
In 1985, a room on the 14th floor was home to Richard Ramirez, The Night Stalker. Ramirez rented the room for just $14 a week. After he had finished his evening killing. He would walk to the backyard, throw his clothes in the dumpster and walk back into the hotel in nothing. Nobody paid him any attention. It was not the sort of place where anyone noticed this behaviour. If they did they were not going to report it. The illegal activities in the hotel did not take kindly to police intervention.
He wasn't the only serial killer to call the hotel, home. In 1991 Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger lived there. As a crime journalist for the LA crime, he lived there whilst he worked on a story about the red light district. What people didn't realise was he was a convicted killer and pimp. Three of the prostitutes he Interviewed he murdered. Many believed that he did this as a homage to Ramirez.
The Black Dahlia
It is reported that Elizabeth Short, who became known as the Black Dahlia, used to frequent the Cecil. Although it has been denied, it was alleged at the time that she was seen having drinks there days before her murder in 1947.
Whether this is true may never be confirmed. It is clear though from all the murders, suicides and unexplained deaths that the Cecil Hotel is not a place to stay. The dark history and strange happening make it one of the most lethal hotels in history.
In the words of Morbid a heavy metal singer whose life was ruined when he was accused of killing Lam.
That hotel is a portal to hell.
Would you stay there?