But walking the floors, past silent door after silent door, it struck me as a nearly impossible task to definitively eliminate the possibility that the woman you’re looking for could be hidden on the other side of any one of them.
American Horror Story: The Cecil Hotel
Josh Dean

Earlier that day, I’d met with Kim Cooper and Richard Schave, the tour guides, at a café on the campus of Cal State-LA. Both have lingering doubts about the case.

How long, Cooper wonders, was the body in the tank? “Was she in a room before?” One full-time resident had told reporters, she said, that he’d heard “a loud thump” during the night of Lam’s disappearance. “Was she with someone in the hotel being held captive?” Cooper asked. “The police want you to think no. But if that happened, then it’s much more horrifying thing because they were in there looking and they failed to find her. And at some point someone in the building disposed of her in one of the only places they could without taking her out of the building.”

Unlike the ghost stories, and the false flag theorizing, this is a plausible theory. It lacks a critical component — that is, any evidence — but it’s hard to fully dismiss the idea either. A police spokesperson told reporters that the roof had been swept by dogs during the investigation, and no scent was discovered.

Schave leans toward the belief that Lam was killed. “Someone put her in the tank,” he said. “I just think it’s highly improbable that someone who has just come to Los Angeles, who’s really having a very tough time, walks onto a roof, immediately identifies engineering functions — ‘Oh those are water storage tanks to maintain water pressure.’ Even if you’re going to the roof, you don’t know what these vats are.”

Cooper is more inclined to accept that it was an accident. “She says in her social media that she suffered from problems sleeping. I think she took Ambien. And I think what’s going on in the elevator footage is she is actually walking and dreaming, which is very common in people taking Ambien.”

Cooper sighed. “I don’t know if she was killed or not. I’m very troubled. If the police really did walk a dog on the roof, they should have hit on her. But maybe they weren’t really taking it super seriously. Young kids disappear all the time.”