No trauma signs on body of Canadian woman found in L.A. hotel water tank

Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:49pm EST
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By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The autopsy of a 21-year-old Canadian student found dead in a water tank atop a historic Los Angeles hotel turned up no fatal wounds, offering no clear answers to her puzzling last days and death, coroner's officials said on Friday.

The inconclusive finding means that further tests must be conducted to determine a cause of death for Elisa Lam, who went missing from the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles under suspicious circumstances in late January.

Lam's body was found floating in one of four large water tanks on the hotel's roof on Tuesday after guests complained of low water pressure in their rooms. Health officials have issued a do-not-drink order for hotel water until it is tested.

Police have said that detectives had been hoping the autopsy would help determine if her death was the result of an accident or foul play.

"They didn't find any bullet holes, they didn't find any stab wounds to my knowledge. So then you've got to go to the next step," Los Angeles County Coroner's spokesman Ed Winter said.

He said coroner's investigators would conduct toxicology tests to establish if Lam was on any medication at the time of her death and if it was at therapeutic levels. Her organs will also be studied to determine if she suffered from any medical issues.

"You see if in fact there were any heart issues, did she die of hypothermia, did she drown," said Winter. "Were her lungs filled with water?"

Lam, a college student from Vancouver, British Columbia, was last seen by staff at the hotel on January 31 and detectives had characterized her disappearance as suspicious. She had been traveling alone but in regular contact with her family in Canada.   Continued...

Authorities stand on the rooftop of the Cecil Hotel after a body was found in a water tank in Los Angeles, California, February 19, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn