'The water did have a funny taste': Body found in water tank at 'cursed' hotel
Published 21/02/2013 | 14:11
THE body of a missing Canadian woman has been discovered in the water tank of a notorious downtown Los Angeles hotel.
Guests at the Cecil Hotel, famous for having hosted serial killers Richard Ramirez - nicknamed the Night Stalker - and Jack Unterweger, are likely to have bathed, drank and brushed their teeth using water from the rooftop tank where Canadian tourist Eliza Lam's body was found floating.
Police confirmed on Tuesday that the body was that of Lam, a 21-year-old University of British Columbia, who disappeared on February 1st.
Authorities do not yet know how her body came to be in the water-tank, or why she was on the roof of the hotel.
Disgusted guests have expressed their horror at the discovery of the body, with one British tourist telling CNN: 'The water did have a funny taste'.
Sabrina Baugh, a British tourist told journalists: 'We never thought anything of it. We thought it was just the way it was here.'
Her husband, Michael Baugh, said water had only dribbled out of the taps at the downtown Cecil Hotel for days.
On Tuesday, after showering, brushing their teeth and drinking some of the tap water, they headed down to the lobby and found out why.
"The moment we found out, we felt a bit sick to the stomach, quite literally, especially having drank the water, we're not well mentally," Michael Baugh, 27, said.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials issued a do-not-drink order Tuesday while its lab analyzes the water, said Terrance Powell, a director coordinating the department's response. The disclosure contradicts a previous police statement that the water had been deemed safe. Results of the testing were expected by Thursday.
Powell said the water was also used for cooking in the hotel; a coffee shop in the hotel would remain closed and has been instructed to sanitize its food equipment before reopening.
"Our biggest concern is going to be fecal contamination because of the body in the water," Powell said. He said the likelihood of contamination is "minimal" given the large amount of water the body was found in, but the department is being extra cautious.
Powell said the hotel hired a water treatment specialist after the department required it to do so to disinfect its plumbing lines.
LAPD Sgt. Rudy Lopez said the death of Elisa Lam was suspicious and said a coroner's investigation will determine Lam's cause of death.
Before she died, hotel surveillance footage showed Lam inside an elevator pushing buttons and sticking her head out the doors, looking in both directions. She was later found in the water tank.
Lopez said the hotel had four cisterns on the roof, each 10 feet (3 meters) tall, 4.5 feet (1.37 meters) wide and hold at least 1,000 gallons (3,785 liters)of water pumped up from city pipes.
Lam's body was found Tuesday morning at the bottom of one cistern that was about three-quarters full of water, Lopez said.
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