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Ghosts, Murders and Suicides From Hotel Cecil to Stay On Main Hotel

The recently re-branded, Stay On Main Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, is an icon of the town and the paranormal world. You may not recognize the name, but the chances are you know the place like the Hotel Cecil.

The historic building over 90 years old collects an extreme amount of murders, suicides, serial killers and ghosts.

The History of The Stay On Main Hotel

With the plan to attract businessmen to Los Angeles, The Hotel Cecil was erected in 1924, with its 700 rooms with a cost of $1,000,000.

The building, at 640 S Main St, had a marble lobby with stained glass windows, potted palms, and alabaster statuary.

But the Great Depression didn’t spare the Art Deco style hotel.

The neighborhood quickly declined into the area known as Skid Row, with as many as 10,000 homeless people living within a four-mile radius.

A New Beginning to The Hotel Cecil

In 2007 new owners came to refurbished a portion of the Hotel Cecil.

But the new beginning came to the almost centenary hotel,  in 2011, it was re-branded to The Stay on Main Hotel.

Three years later, more changes, Simon Baron Development, New-York based firm, bought the ground lease on the property, and the NYC hotelier, Richard Born, acquired the hotel for $30 million.

The Los Angeles City Council granted historic status to the Hotel Cecil on February 2017.

The Dark Past From the Cecil Hotel

It’s understandable the marketing idea of changing the hotel’s name because the name Hotel Cecil is connected with dark and strange murders and deaths.

The Skid Row neighborhood added to the mix. This place is known for drug dealers, robbers and all sort of outlaws.

The Black Dahlia

The iconic "Black Dahlia" became the nickname given to Elizabeth Short (July 29, 1924 - January 15, 1947).On the morning of January 15, 1947, a lady found Elizabeth Short’s naked body, in two pieces on a vacant lot on the west side of South Norton Avenue Midway between Coliseum Street and West 39th Street.

The body drained entirely of blood, her face had been slashed from the corners of her mouth to her ears, creating an effect called the “Glasgow smile”.

Since Elizabeth Short hadn’t a fixed residence, she used to live in between Florida, Massachusetts, and California.

A variety of reports claims Short made her last stop before being murdered, at the Hotel Cecil.

The murderer, well, was never caught.

Richard Ramirez, The Night Stalker

Richard Ramirez received the name of The Night StalkerFrom June 1984 until August 1985, Richard Ramirez used the Hotel Cecil as a base for his killing in Los Angeles.

Ramirez used different forms and weapons to murder his victims, from a hammer, knives, a machete, handguns, even using a tire iron.

He received the name of “The Night Stalker” by the press.

Without any remorse for the lives he took, Ramirez admitted being a Satanist.

Jack Unterweger

Austrian crime journalist, by the name Johann Unterweger, registers into the Hotel Cecil in 1991.

An Austrian magazine hired Jack, his nickname, to write about crime in Los Angeles most specific about the differences between American and European attitudes to prostitution.

Jack Unterweger was an Austrian serial killer who murdered prostitutes in several countriesJack Unterweger even worked with the police’s help, riding thru prostitution areas.

What people from today’s Stay On Main Hotel didn’t know was that Jack Unterweger was an Austrian serial killer who murdered prostitutes in several countries.

Jack Unterweger became a journalist after being released in 1990 as an example of rehabilitation.

While Unterweger’s stay at the Hotel Cecil, three prostitutes (Shannon Exley, Irene Rodriguez, and Sherri Ann Long) was beaten, sexually assaulted with tree branches, and strangled with their bras.

In Austria, rumors spread that Jack Unterweger was involved in it. Since no other suspects appeared during the investigations, the police kept him under surveillance but could find nothing to connect him to the crimes.

Austrian police later found that Unterweger killed a prostitute in Czechoslovakia and other six victims in Austria right after his release in 1990.

Hunted by law enforcement all over Europa, Jack Unterweger was arrested in Florida, and on the 29th of June 1994. The jury sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Johann Unterweger committed suicide that same night at the prison by hanging himself with a rope made from shoelaces and a cord from the trousers of his track suit.

The Horrible Case of Dorothy Jean Purcell

In September 1944, Dorothy Jean Purcell, 19, and Ben Levine, 38, checked into the Cecil Hotel.

Purcell woke in the middle of the night with stomach pains, going into the restroom she delivered, what she believed to be, a dead, baby by herself.

The young girl apparently unaware she was pregnant threw her newborn from a window, without waking her sleeping partner.

The body was later found on the roof of an adjacent building.

Dorothy Jean Purcell was charged with homicide but in January 1945 Purcell was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Pigeon Goldie

Ghosts, Murders and Suicides From Cecil Hotel to Stay On Main HotelA retired telephone operator, “Pigeon Goldie” Osgood, was found dead on June 4, 1964, by a hotel worker distributing phone books in her room.

Pigeon Goldie was strangled, stabbed and raped.

Her Dodgers cap and a paper sack full of birdseed that she fed the birds in nearby Pershing Square were found near her body.

Jacques B. Ehlinger, 29-years-old, was arrested walking through Pershing Square in bloodstained clothing.

After further investigations, he was cleared of the crime.

Another unsolved case.

Suicidal Tendencies at the Cecil Hotel

Murders are not the only dark chapter from the old Stay On Main Hotel story

On 19 November 1931, the body of the 46-year-old W.K Norton was found in the Hotel Cecil.

A week earlier a “James Willys of Chicago” checked into the hotel and never was saw alive again.

W.K. Norton, from Manhattan Beach, came to the hotel with clear intentions to take his own life, by taking poison capsules.

Less than a year later, Benjamin Dodich, shot himself in the head. The 25-years old was found the next day by the maid, without a suicide note.

Sergeant Louis D. Borden, former Army Medical Corps, slashed his throat with a razor, in 1934. The 53-year-old left a note making reference to his ill-health.

Three years later, Grace E. Magro died from injuries she received from falling out of the window of her room. LAPD could not determine if the fall from the ninth story window was accidental or suicide. Her fall, in March 1937 was broken by telephone wiring that “entangled about her body”.

Next year, another fall, this time Roy Thompson, a 35-year-old jumped from the Hotel Cecil’s top floor, to be found on the skylight of the building next door.

In January 1939, a 45-year-old teacher tried to take her life by poison. In May, Erwin C. Neblett, 39, didn’t have the same luck. The sailor died in his room employing the same method.

In November 1947, Long Beach resident Robert Smith jump to his death from Hotel Cecil’s  seventh floor.

Registered as Margaret Brown, Helen Gurnee met her death after falling from the same seventh floor, a week later, on October 22, 1954. She landed on top of the hotel’s marquee.

It Didn’t Stop There.

Julia Frances Moore, 50-year-old, jumped from the eighth floor on February 11, 1962. She left no note, just 59 cents in change, an Illinois bank book showing a balance of $1800 and a bus ticket from St. Louis. Her body landed in a second story interior light well.

A couple had a definitive argument in their ninth floor’s room. The husband tired of the argument left to get something to eat and clear his mind, on October 12, 1962.

While he was gone, his wife, Pauline Otton, 27-years-old, committed suicide by jumping from the room’s window. But the cruel destiny of her decision landed her on top of a 65-year-old pedestrian, George Gianinni. Both were killed instantly.

The primary investigation from the LA Police could not find any live witnesses, resulting to a conclusion of a double suicide.

After further analyses, George Gianinni was still wearing shoes and with his hands in his pockets, unlikely characteristics from a person that attempts suicide.

Elisa Lam

The last drop in the darkness history of the Hotel Cecil.

By 19th of February 2013, Hotel Cecil’s guests complained of the water smells, dark color, lack of pressure and that water “tasted funny.”

A maintenance worker checks the water supply tanks on the hotel roof and found the decomposed body of Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old Canadian student.

Lam’s body was naked with her clothes and personal effects floating aside her in the water.

Elisa Lam went missing almost three weeks earlier, on January 31, 2013.

During the investigation, LAPD found disturbing video footage from the Hotel Cecil’s CCTV taken from inside an elevator shortly before her disappearance.

What happened to Elisa Lam?

Firemen removing Elisa Lam's body from the water towers

The surveillance footage showed Lam acting erratic, pressing multiple elevator buttons, hiding in the corner of the elevator, and waving her arms wildly, causing widespread speculation about the cause of her death.

Even after pressing multiple elevator buttons, the elevator doesn’t move.

With the footage becoming public, more questions were unanswered and the paranormal speculation grows with claims that Lam was possessed or being chased by the Hotel Cecil’s ghosts.

Lam’s parents later informed them she had a bipolar disorder, which could have contributed to her death as well as her strange behavior in the elevator.

Los Angeles County Coroner’s office took four months to release the autopsy report, which reports no evidence of physical trauma and states that the cause of death was accidental.

Soon after Elisa Lam’s body was discovered, a deadly outbreak of tuberculosis occurred there.

As the situation was already strange, the name of the test kit used in these types of situations is LAM-ELISA or Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay. Coincidence?

The guests at the Hotel Cecil sued the hotel over the incident.  Lam’s parents filed a separate suit later the same year.

The investors saw the need to re-brand the Hotel Cecil as The Stay on Main Hotel, in the hope that the dark events stay in the past.

Read an exclusive post telling more details about Elisa Lam’s case.

Ghosts From The Stay On Main Hotel

A large number of paranormal investigators, mediums, and locals believe that The Stay on Main Hotel is haunted.

But aside the strange elevator video, that cannot be classified as Paranormal Evidence.

The only close to paranormal evidence is a unique photo.

Ghost Photo at The Stay On Main Hotel

Ghost Photo at the Stay On Main Hotel

A photo was taken by Koston Alderete, a Riverside boy with a passion for horror movies and ghost stories.

“When I looked at the window, it just seemed a bit scary to me, and then I showed my friend, and he was terrified. It scares me yet,” said Alderete.

Koston Alderete complains that he had nightmares after taking the picture.

So, is The Stay On Main Hotel photo real? Does it show a ghost? Leave your opinion.


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