Netflix’s Crime Scene: Cecil Hotel Disappearance references The Black Dahlia, another infamous murder related to the Elisa Lam case.
Crime Scene: The Disappearance at Hotel Cecil refers to “The Black Dahlia” Elizabeth Short, so what is the connection to the Elisa Lam case? Both true crime stories are linked by a downtown Los Angeles location and have been widely covered in pop culture. Ultimately, the two women are connected primarily by Hollywood lore rather than actual evidence.
In January 1947, Elizabeth Short, 22, disappeared after being seen at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Six days later, his mutilated corpse was found in the Leimert Park section of the city. Over the decades, the unsolved murder case has perplexed real-life investigators and online detectives (like those of Crime scene), while also serving as a warning about the dangers of Los Angeles, especially for young actresses. Approximately 66 years after Short’s disappearance and death, a 21-year-old Canadian named Elisa Lam similarly disappeared in downtown Los Angeles, just days after checking into the Cecil Hotel. His body was discovered about three weeks later inside a water tank at the top of the building. When police unleashed surveillance on Lam acting erratically inside a hotel elevator, the clip went viral and sparked conspiracy theories about what actually happened to the young traveler. Crime scene explore popular theories before reaching a sobering conclusion about Lam’s mental health issues.
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The Black Dahlia is referenced in Crime scene because Short allegedly visited the Hotel Cecil bar on the night of her disappearance. In episode 3 of the Netflix docuseries, “Down the Rabbit Hole,” online detectives identify a suspect in the possible murder of Lam, a Mexican death metal musician known as Morbid. The shock rocker once posted a video of his experiences at the Cecil Hotel, and also posted a separate video with footage of serial killer Ted Bundy and The Black Dahlia in the background. Incidentally, the amateur detectives decided that Morbid must have had an encounter with Lam at the Cecil Hotel, murdered her, and then mentioned the murder in their art.
It turns out that Morbid visited the Cecil Hotel a year before Lam’s death and has an alibi that clears his name. His interest in the infamous hotel and The Black Dahlia is part of his death metal artistic personality, rather than an indication of malicious or violent tendencies. The musician, whose real name is Pablo C. Vergara, appears before the camera in Crime scene (no makeup) and reveals that the online harassment he received after Lam’s disappearance led him to a suicide attempt.
Black Dahlia may have visited the Hotel Cecil bar at some point in her life, but there is no evidence to support the theory that she was there the night of her disappearance. The rumor comes from a police report by LAPD Officer Myril McBride, who noted that he encountered a young woman who left a bar on Main Street in downtown Los Angeles and claimed that someone had threatened to kill her. When McBride saw photos of Short, he allegedly did not identify her as the woman he spoke to on the night in question. It’s also worth noting that McBride made no specific reference to the Hotel Cecil’s bar in his report; Still, legend has turned that Short did visit the infamous place before disappearing. The woman McBride spoke to also said she planned to reunite with her parents that night, in contrast to the fact that The Black Dahlia had separated from her family.
As for the Lam case, there are indeed similarities to the last days of The Black Dahlia. Both women visited San Diego in the days leading up to their deaths, and they both spent time in a seedy Los Angeles neighborhood. Furthermore, both corpses were naked when they were discovered. Beyond that, there is no physical evidence connecting Lam and Short, other than a specific geographic location in Southern California. Of course, they will be linked forever by the Hotel Cecil mythology, no doubt after the release of Crime scene.
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