List of deaths and violence at the Cecil Hotel
Numerous incidents of deaths and violence have occurred at Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles throughout its history.[a] Originally opened as a middle-class hotel on December 20, 1924, in Downtown Los Angeles, it eventually became a budget hotel, hostel, and rooming house. Its reputation is due to at least 16 sudden or unexplained deaths that have occurred in or around the hotel.
Timeline of incidents
|Date||Accused||Accused age||Victim(s)||Victim(s) Age||Type||Method||Details|
|January 22, 1927||Percy Ormond Cook||52||Suicide||Gunshot to the head||In the evening, Cook shot himself in the head while inside his hotel room after failing to reconcile with his wife and child. Although the Times reported that he was rushed to the Receiving Hospital with a slim chance of survival, death records reveal that he died that same evening.|
|November 19, 1931||W. K. Norton||46||Suicide||Ingested poison||Manhattan Beach resident W. K. Norton was found dead in his room after ingesting poison capsules. A week prior, he had checked into the Cecil under the name "James Willys" from Chicago.|
|September 1932||Benjamin Dodich||25||Suicide||Gunshot to the head||A maid found Dodich dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He did not leave a suicide note.|
|July 1934||Sgt. Louis D. Borden||53||Suicide||Slit throat||In late July, former Army Medical Corps Sgt. Borden was found dead in his room at the Cecil. He had slashed his throat with a razor. Borden left several notes, one of which cited poor health as the reason for his suicide.|
|March 1937||Grace E. Magro||Death||Fell from building||Magro fell from a ninth-story window. Her fall was broken by telephone wires which were wrapped around her body. She later died at the now-demolished Georgia Street Receiving Hospital. Police were unable to determine whether Magro's death was the result of an accident or suicide.|
|January 1938||Roy Thompson||35||Death||Fell from building||United States Marine Corps fireman Thompson jumped from Cecil's top floor and was found on the skylight of a neighboring building. He had been staying at the Cecil for several weeks.|
|May 1939||Erwin C. Neblett||39||Death||Ingested poison||Navy officer Neblett was found dead in his room after ingesting poison.|
|January 1940||Dorothy Seger||45||Death||Ingested poison||Teacher Seger ingested poison while staying at the Cecil and was reported by the Los Angeles Times to be "near death". No further reports were published about her condition. Her death is listed at Jan 12, 1940 from FindADeath.com|
|September 1944||Dorothy Jean Purcell||19||Purcell's un-named newborn son||0||Murder (acquitted due to insanity)||Newborn discarded from window||Purcell was sharing a room at the Cecil with her boyfriend, shoe salesman Ben Levine, 38. Purcell, who had apparently been unaware that she was pregnant, when she went into labour. She later testified that she did not want to disrupt the sleeping Levine, so she went to the bathroom where she gave birth to a baby boy. Thinking the baby was dead, she threw him out of the window, and he landed on the roof of an adjacent building. Purcell was charged with murder. Three psychiatrists testified that she was "mentally confused" at the time of the incident. In January 1945, she was found not guilty by reason of insanity.|
|November 1947||Robert Smith||35||Death||Fell from building||Smith died after jumping from one of Cecil's seventh-floor windows.|
|October 22, 1954||Helen Gurnee||55||Death||Fell from building||San Francisco stationery firm employee Gurnee jumped from the window of her seventh-floor room and landed on top of Cecil's marquee. One week prior, she had registered at the hotel under the name "Margaret Brown."|
|February 11, 1962||Julia Frances Moore||50||Death||Fell from building||Moore jumped from the window of her eighth-floor room and landed in a second-storey interior light well. She did not leave a suicide note. Among her possessions were a bus ticket from St. Louis, 59 cents in change, and an Illinois bank book showing a balance of $1,800.|
|October 12, 1962||Pauline Otton
|Suicide||Fell from building||Otton jumped from the window of her ninth-floor room after an argument with her estranged husband Dewey. He had left the room prior to Otton's suicide. Otton landed on a pedestrian, Gianinni, killing them both instantly. As there were no witnesses, police initially thought Otton and Gianinni committed suicide together. However, it was soon determined that Gianinni had his hands in his pockets at the time of his death, and he was still wearing shoes. Had he jumped, his shoes would have likely fallen off during the fall or upon impact, and his hands would not have been in his pockets.|
|June 4, 1964||Jacques B. Ehlinger||29||"Pigeon Goldie" Osgood||65||Murder (acquitted)||Stabbed, beaten, and raped||A hotel worker discovered Osgood, a retired telephone operator, dead in her room. She had been raped, stabbed, and beaten, and her room was ransacked. Osgood was well known around the area and had earned her nickname because she fed birds in nearby Pershing Square. Near her body was the Los Angeles Dodgers cap she always wore and a paper sack full of birdseed. Hours after her murder Ehlinger was seen walking through Pershing Square in bloodstained clothing. He was arrested and charged with Osgood's murder but was later cleared of the crime. The murder remains unsolved.|
|December 20, 1975||"Alison Lowell"||Approx. 23||Death||Fell from building||A still-unidentified woman jumped from her twelfth-floor window onto the Cecil's second-floor roof. She had registered at the hotel on December 16 under the name "Alison Lowell" and was staying in room 327.|
|September 1, 1992||Approx. 20-30||Death||Fell from building||The body of an African American man was found in the alley behind the Cecil. Police said he had either fallen, jumped, or been pushed from the hotel's 15th floor. The 20-to-30-year-old male has never been identified.|
|February 19, 2013||Elisa Lam||21||Death||Unknown (?)
(Probably accidental drowning.)
|The naked body of Lam, a Canadian student, was found inside one of the water supply tanks on the hotel roof. She had gone missing almost three weeks earlier, on January 31, 2013. Her decomposing body was discovered by a maintenance worker in one of the rooftop water tanks after guests had complained about low water pressure and water that "tasted funny." Video surveillance footage taken from inside an elevator shortly before her disappearance showed her acting strangely, pressing multiple elevator buttons, hiding in the corner of the elevator, and waving her arms wildly, causing widespread speculation about the cause of her death. After the elevator video was released, many theories arose about Lam's death. She was reported to have had bipolar disorder, for which she was prescribed various medications, which could have contributed to her death as well as her strange behavior in the elevator. Authorities later ruled Lam's death as an accidental drowning.|
|June 13, 2015||28||Death||Suspected to have fallen from the building||
The body of a 28-year-old man was found outside the hotel. Some conjectured he may have committed suicide by jumping from the hotel, although a spokesperson for the county coroner informed the Los Angeles Times that the cause of death had not been determined.
- List of reportedly haunted locations
- Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel
- H. H. Holmes
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