Published February 22, 2013
LOS ANGELES – More tests are needed to determine whether the young Canadian tourist whose body was found wedged in a water tank on top of a Los Angeles hotel was killed or the victim of a bizarre accident, authorities said.
An autopsy performed Thursday didn't provide definitive answers into the case of Elisa Lam of Vancouver, British Columbia. Police have called her death suspicious.
Coroner's officials will await toxicology tests before making a final determination.
Guest complaints about low water pressure prompted a maintenance worker to make the gruesome discovery on Tuesday in a water cistern atop the Cecil Hotel.
Before she died, hotel surveillance footage showed Lam inside an elevator pushing buttons and sticking her head out the doors, looking in both directions.
Guests at the time described the water as having a terrible taste. Water tested from the hotel didn't contain any live bacteria that would cause illness.
Although county health officials issued a do-not drink order, the results that came back Thursday indicated the water was safe from a "microbiological standpoint," said Angelo Bellomo, the county's director of environmental health.
"We can't say what the quality of the water was prior to the samples," taken on Tuesday, Bellomo said. "
Lam traveled alone to Los Angeles on Jan. 26 and was last seen five days later by workers at the 600-room hotel near Skid Row, an area with large numbers of homeless people. She intended to travel to Santa Cruz, about 350 miles (560 kilometers) north of Los Angeles.
High school classmate Alex Ristea of Vancouver called Lam's death shocking and said she was one of the friendliest people he knew.
"This is the last person I expect out of all my friends to have something like this happen to her," Ristea said.
Ristea said he believes Lam had gone to California for a holiday, saying she had posted pictures on Facebook from tourist locations such as the San Diego Zoo.
University of British Columbia spokesman Randy Schmidt confirmed that Lam had attended summer school at the university but was not registered for the current session.
Reached by phone, a man who confirmed that it was Lam's home of said he was busy and hung up when asked to speak about her. A woman reached later at the same number, when told it was a reporter calling, also hung up after saying, "Sorry."