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Hotel resident disgusted after tourist's body found in water tank

Photo: Authorities gathered on the roof of the Cecil Hotel on Main Street following the discovery of a body in the hotel's water tank Tuesday. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Alvin Taylor, 68, was disgusted to learn there was a body in the cistern above the Cecil Hotel that supplied the water he showered and brushed his teeth with.

"I've been torn up just thinking about it," the 35-year resident of the hotel said. "It's scary."

Residents are being moved to the Mayfair Hotel nearby until the water is deemed safe, which is expected to be Saturday, Taylor said.

Authorities discovered the body of Elicia Lam, a 21-year-old Vancouver tourist, inside a water tank on the hotel's roof Tuesday. A maintenance worker discovered her body after receiving complaints from Cecil residents about low water pressure.

The residents, many of whom have lived there for years, are required to sign a waiver every time they enter the hotel. Cecil employees declined to provide a copy of the wavier to The Times.

The hotel was flushing out its water pipes, Taylor was told. A steady stream of water gushed out from a pipe on the street in front of the Cecil on Thursday afternoon.

The entrance of the lobby was flooding, with a bucket and towels sitting on the floor to catch the water.

An autopsy for Lam was expected to be conducted Thursday said Ed Winter, spokesman for the L.A. County coroner's office.

Health officials were also expected to release the results of their tests on the water Thursday afternoon.

"I didn't think anything of it until they found the body," said Taylor, who intends to move back in once the water is cleaned out. "I'll just stay somewhere else until they fix it."

After Lam was reported missing about three weeks ago, investigators searched the roof of the hotel with the aid of dogs. Sgt. Rudy Lopez said he didn't know if the tanks were examined.

"We did a very thorough search of the hotel," he said. "But we didn't search every room; we could only do that if we had probable cause" that a crime had been committed.

A locked door that only employees have access to and a fire escape are the only ways to get to the roof. The door is equipped with an alarm system that notifies hotel personnel if it is opened, Lopez said.

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Photo: Authorities gathered on the roof of the Cecil Hotel on Main Street following the discovery of a body in the hotel's water tank Tuesday. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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