LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A body found in a water tank on the roof of a historic Los Angeles hotel has been identified as that of a 21-year-old Canadian woman who went missing in late January, police said on Wednesday.
The body, which was discovered on Tuesday morning in one of four water tanks on top of the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, has been positively identified as that of Elisa Lam by members of her family, Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Lt. Andy Nieman said.
“The coroner has confirmed that it is Elisa Lam based on some distinctive markings on her body,” Neiman said. “They had confirmation from the family based on those markings.”
A coroner’s spokesman declined to release further information on the condition of the remains pending an autopsy that he said would likely take place on Thursday.
Lam, a 21-year-old college student from Vancouver, British Columbia, was last seen by staff at the hotel on January 31, and police detectives had characterized her disappearance as suspicious.
Police have said that the reason for Lam’s visit to Southern California was unclear but that her final destination was expected to be Santa Cruz in Central California.
Security video taken in an elevator of the hotel and released by the LAPD last week showed her acting strangely, hiding in a corner, pushing multiple buttons and repeatedly peering around the elevator doors into a hallway.
The body was discovered in one of the four large, cylindrical tanks by a maintenance worker investigating guest complaints of low water pressure at the art deco hotel, which was built in 1927 and is considered a local landmark.
Firefighters removed the remains by cutting through the side of the tank under a canopy that shielded them from news helicopters overhead.
Neiman said detectives were investigating Lam’s death but said it was too early to say conclusively that she had been the victim of foul play.
“There are a lot of possibilities. She may have climbed into the tank not knowing what it was and fell in or there could be something suspicious about how she got in tank,” he said.
The doors and other access points that lead to the roof are secured and alarmed, Neiman said, but investigators were trying to determine if she could have climbed up on a fire escape.
He said detectives expected to learn more from the results of the autopsy but cautioned that toxicology tests typically took at least several weeks to complete.
Los Angeles police say they were contacted by Canadian authorities after her parents reported her missing there.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Carol Bishopric