Update: Body of woman in water tank of LA hotel where Canadian tourist Elisa Lam last seen

Hotel Cecil

Eric Zassenhaus/KPCC

The Hotel Cecil in downtown Los Angeles, where Canadian tourist Elisa Lam was last seen. On Tuesday, Feb. 19, workers discovered a body in one of four rooftop water tanks.

Eric Zassenhaus/ KPCC

Bernard Diaz, a 32 year resident of the Cecil Hotel, says he was not told why residents were told not to use the hotel's water system on Tuesday morning.

Eric Zassenhaus/ KPCC

Fire CaptainJamie Moore (L) and LAPD Sergeant Rudy Lopez brief reporters on a body being discovered in the water tank of a hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

Hotel Cecil

Eric Zassenhaus/KPCC

The Hotel Cecil in downtown Los Angeles, where Canadian tourist Elisa Lam was last seen.

NBC Los Angeles

Police and fire officials investigated the roof of the Cecil Hotel on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.


Update 3:30 p.m.: Police and fire officials said the body discovered in a rooftop water tank at downtown L.A.'s Cecil Hotel was that of a woman in her 20s, though they have not yet identified the victim and have not yet recovered the body from the tank, which is only about three-quarters full of water. 

The Hotel Cecil was the last place anyone saw missing Canadian tourist Elisa Lam, 21, on Jan. 31.  Lam never checked out of the hotel.

Capt. Jaime Moore of the L.A. Fire Department said his department received a call from Cecil's management at 10:11 a.m. saying that a member of their maintenance staff had discovered the body. 

LAPD spokesman Sgt. Rudy Lopez added that the maintenance man they interviewed had received complaints about water pressure from some of the hotel's guests.  

"Our urban search and rescue team i s working on the best method to recover the body and maintain as much ... evidence as they possibly can to support the investigation that's being done by the LAPD and robbery/ homicide investigators," Lopez said.

Police could not say how long the victim had been in the tank or how she got there. 

Full audio :

Moore said there was no immediate concern over the health risks to those who have stayed in the hotel, though he added that there was a biohazard team on their way to the site.

"The Department of Health has done a water sample, and they have notified us that there is no biohazard that we need to be concerned of at this time with the water that's in the tank," he said.

Management immediately told hotel residents not to use the showers, faucets or sinks in the building. 

Thirty-two year Cecil Hotel resident Bernard Diaz, 89, said management didn't tell him why he couldn't use the water. He later found out from news reports. 

"One hour later on KTLA I'm watching the television, and they broke in with the announcement that they had found a body in the water tank over the 15th floor of the Cecil Hotel," he said.

The Cecil Hotel, one of the area's residential hotels, serves both long-term and short-term guests.

"So many things have happened in this place that nothing surprises me," Diaz said.

—Eric Zassenhaus

Update 1:45 p.m.:  A body was found inside one of four large water tanks on top of the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, says LAPD Officer Bruce Borihanh, according to KPCC wire services.

This is the same hotel where missing Canadian tourist Elisa Lam, 21, was last seen on Jan. 31. Lam never checked out of the hotel. Surveillance video shows Lam inside an elevator at the hotel before she went missing.

Officer Diana Figueroa says police responded to the roof of the Cecil Hotel just after 10 a.m. on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports. Figueroa says it's too soon to know the victim's identity with certainty.

Vancouver, British Columbia, resident Lam traveled to California alone on Jan. 27 and she was last seen by workers at the hotel on Jan. 31.

The gender and age of the dead person have yet to be released.

Detectives were summoned to the hotel, according to KPCC wire services. Fire department staff was also on the rooftop Tuesday, NBC Los Angeles reported.

An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of LAFD Capt. Jaime Moore. KPCC regrets the error.

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