Haunted History – The Cecil Hotel

So let’s talk about the Cecil Hotel in L.A., trust me, not a place you’d want to book for vacation, unless you’re as demented as I am!

cecilThe Cecil is a low budget hotel and when I say low, I mean gutter low.  This 600 room train wreck plays host to transients and crackheads alike, offering a roof over their guests heads for about $470 per month, getting the picture, yeah, it’s like that!  Since its construction in 1927 it has been the site for multiple suicides, murders, and disappearances as well as providing a sanctuary for serial killers.

cycsternIn 2013 the Cecil was the site of a mysterious death, this highly publicized tragedy hit headlines across the nation, you may have heard something about it.  It started out with complaints from the guests, stating that the water smelled bad and had a foul taste.  Well, when maintenance staff started investigating the cause it took a while but eventually a corpse was discovered in the water cistern on the roof.  At the bottom of the tank were the remains of a Canadian tourist named Elisa Lam, ring a bell yet?

Just imagine, these folks had been bathing in, brushing their teeth and cooking with the same water that Lams body had been decomposing in, fantastic right!  Lam had checked into the hotel on January 26 and was reported missing on February 1st. No on knows what happened to her to this day but closed circuit tv recordings showed  Lam acting bizarrely, hiding in the lift, then pressing all the buttons before peering out strangely. She eventually exits the lift and gestures to someone – or something – outside the doors.

After this, she vanished. Her body was discovered in the tank on the secured and alarmed rooftop over two weeks later.  In watching the footage it appears that Lam had consumed some serious drugs when she is filmed in the lift, yet no substances were found in her system during an autopsy.

The coroner ruled her death “accidental due to drowning”, yet many questions remain unanswered. What actually happened to Lam may never be known.

rrAs far as those serial killers, yeah, here we go:  The Cecil was home to ‘Night Stalker’ Richard Ramirez, an American serial killer, rapist and burglar during 1984-85. The satanist’s terrorized L.A. before he was finally captured and convicted of 13 murders.

He lived on the top floor in a $14-a-night room while he slaughtered his 13 female victims.  It was convenient for him, he’d just dump his bloody clothes in the dumpster at the end of the evening and go into the hotel via the rear entrance.  Ramirez was sentenced to death in a gas chamber in 1989, and on receiving his sentence showed no remorse, his last statement: “Big deal. Death always went with the territory. See you in Disneyland.” Yeah, keep that shit in mind when you book your summer vacation with the kids right!

jackAustrian serial killer Jack Unterweger also stayed at the hotel in 1991 for five weeks. During this time he murdered three prostitutes, who would enter his room via the fire escape for a measly $30.  This all occurred after he had been jailed and released in Austria for similar murders.  He was released as an example for rehabilitation and was hired by an Austrian magazine to be a crime writer in Los Angeles.  The disturbed crime journalist is believed to have been paying homage to his subject, Richard Ramirez, when he beat, sexually assaulted and then strangled the women with their own bra straps.

g1And what about the suicides and murders?  The horrors started at the beginning of the great depression.   In 1929 a 33 year old woman was taken to the hospital after wandering around the hotel for 3 days while acting in a bizarre manner.  According to reports, she was distraught over the sudden death of her husband and had tried to poison herself with prescribed barbiturates. She failed in her attempt.  After this, the hotel became known as a suicide hot spot.  The first suicide was documented only a few weeks later when a 46 year old man intentionally od’s on poison.   The following year, a 25-year-old man shot himself in his hotel room.  A year later, a young truck driver was fatally pinned against the hotel by a large truck.

g2In 1934, another lonely man took his life.  and then a marine fireman named Roy Thompson, who had been at the Cecil for several weeks, was found dead in the skylight of the building next door after apparently jumping from his hotel room.   Oh, I’m not finished because Pauline Otton, 27, threw herself to her death from a ninth-floor window after arguing with her husband. She landed on pedestrian George Gianinni, 65, on the street below, killing him instantly. Oh and helen Gurnee too, she plunged to her death from a seventh-floor window, her body landing atop the hotel marquee above the heads of pedestrians,  and check this out,  In 1947, Elizabeth Short, nicknamed the Black Dahlia, was allegedly seen at the Cecil bar shortly before she was murdered.

In an unsolved murder in 1964, Pigeon woman, Goldie Osgood, who enjoyed feeding the birds in a nearby square, was found dead in her room. She had been stabbed, strangled and raped – and then had her room ransacked.

These deaths are only a potion of the tragedies that have befallen the Cecil there are many more bizarre stories to be told such as the man accused of killing his girlfriend in Huntington Beach was arrested at the Cecil in 1988.   In 1995, a murder suspect named Eric Reed was found at the hotel, after breaking out of a jail in Castaic.

So, yeah, as I was saying, unless you are demented, not a place you’d care to book.  But I think we may spend some time on this join in a later episode.  I’ve only researched the grizzly deaths associated with the Cecil, There have got to be some serious ghosts wandering around this hotel today, wouldn’t you think?  Yeah, I’m thinking I’ll have to dig into this a little further but at least now we know the background, so later when we talk about the hauntings, we’ll at least have a better understanding of why right!


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Haunted Louisiana – Oak Alley Plantation

oak alley     Originally dubbed “Bon Sejour” (Pleasant Sojourn) by it’s original owner Jacques Telesphore Roman III, this majestic structure would come to be known as “Oak Alley” indicative of the 300+ year old oak trees, which line it’s .25 mile long driveway.

Oak Alley was constructed during a two year time span beginning in 1837 and ending in 1839; over 100 years after it’s mammoth Oaks were planted  by a French settler that had once lived on the grounds.   Though built to suit the high standards of Josephine Pile, the wife of Jacques, the elaborate estate would not hold her fancies for long.

Josephine had been well known among the most elite circles of New Orleans and yearned to return to the big city social life.  She would often return with her children to visit the city.  As time passed, the visits became more frequent and longer, leaving Jacques alone within the home that he had built for her.  Jacques would die home alone in 1848 of Tuberculosis.

After Jacques passing, his son Henri, would take over the family home.  During this period Oak Alley experienced many blows brought on by the Civil War.  Vandalism and looting brought her to her knees and by 1866 she was sold at public auction to John Armstrong.  The plantation would pass ownership through many hands until purchased by Andrew and Josephine Stewart.

The Stewart’s would spend the remainder of their lives restoring Oak Alley, which would become the first antebellum restoration in the South.  When Josephine died in 1972, Oak Alley was left to the “Oak Alley Foundation” a non-profit organization which she had founded.   In 1998, Oak Alley would be opened to the public as a bed and breakfast with guided tours.

History of Hauntings

While the original structure was under construction, a slave named Antoine was known by all as the head grounds keeper.  Antoine was known for grafting pecan trees and  is responsible for breeding what we know now as the soft shell pecan.  His original hybrid trees still stand on the estate grounds.

Antoine loved the estate and dedicated his life to caring for the grounds, it is said that he can still be seen meandering about beneath the sprawling Oaks and among the pecan trees which he had created and cared for.

Louise Roman, daughter of Jacques and Josephine, was raised to the same social standards of her mother.  During her courting years, Louise became angered by a suitor who had drank too much and in his drunken state, attempted to kiss her.  Furious over his actions, Louise ran away from him.  In her rage, she tripped and fell,  slicing her leg open on the metal frame of her hoop skirting.  The wound developed gangrene resulting in the loss of her leg.

Now seeing herself as damaged goods and no longer worthy of the attentions of those within her social standing, Louise retreated to a convent in St. Louis; she would return to Oak Alley in her late years in order to live out the last of her days.  She is often seen wandering throughout the home, many guests have heard her crying over both the loss of her leg and social status.

Josephine Roman is frequently seen wandering from room to room, making sure that everything is in order.  Josephine has been caught on camera many times both by investigators and guests alike.

Jacques died lonely in his beloved home, his shadowy apparition is sometimes spotted around the back of the estate.  He is always seen in a gray suit wearing his riding boots.  Jacques also makes appearances in a mirror that is now stored in the attic.

Josephine Stewart was said to favor the lavender room, perhaps that is why she is frequently seen walking about the room, sometimes she is seen sitting on the bed and is known to turn on the lamp at nightfall.

A fantastic list of apparitions, but that’s not all folks!  Things are known to be flung about, thrown by unseen hands.  Many items have been reported missing by guests, only to be recovered by the staff at a later date either near or in the same place from where they previously vanished.

On rare occasions the sound of a hours drawn carriage can be heard on the driveway as it approached the estate, the sound vanishes just upon it’s arrival at the front steps.

Oak Alley has been investigated by several well known paranormal researchers.  Sci-Fi’s Ghost Hunters, The Travel Channel’s, Ghost Adventures and TAPS have all reported intriguing activity citing both photographic and EVP evidence.  Many have had encounters during their stay.  One particular incident occurred during the middle of a guided tour.  Imagine the surprise of both the tour guide and 35 patrons when witnessing a candlestick fly from the mantle across the room!

Oak Alley has definitely earned her title as one of Louisiana’s most haunted, book your stay or guided tour soon, it’s definitely on my bucket list!