Cecil Hotel’s nefarious past is back in the spotlight thanks to Netflix’s latest true-crime documentary, Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel. The four-part series directed by Joe Berlinger explores how the notorious Los Angeles establishment became associated with suicide and murder through the lens of guest Elisa Lam’s disappearance and mysterious death in 2013. Amy Price, the hotel’s general manager from 2007 to 2017, opens up to ET about why she is speaking out for the first time about her experiences working at the Cecil.
“I love my job. I did. You know, I worked with amazing people,” Price tells ET of her 10 years at the hotel, which was briefly re-branded as Stay on Main during her tenure.
“Unfortunately, a lot of them were thinking, there’s some crazy, creepy person behind the scenes that just doesn’t care and is running this hotel where all these bad things happen, and it’s not true,” she says in the docuseries, when asked about what people imagine the manager of the Cecil Hotel to be. She then goes on to explain all the “unique challenges” of working at a place like this, which includes seeing 80 dead bodies over the course of her time there. “I never got used to that,” she says.
While most of those deaths, Price goes on to explain to ET, involved elderly people who passed away naturally, “we had some circumstances where people lost their lives due to suicide and some overdoses.” And when it comes to Lam, despite all the conspiracy theories surrounding her disappearance, her death was ultimately determined to be an accident.
“From the beginning, when I learned that Elisa Lam went missing, I didn't have a good feeling about it. But I didn't think she was gonna end up at the hotel,” she says, adding that people became obsessed. “Even after it was released, how it was determined how she died. It was all very public, but people just couldn’t seem to accept the outcome.”
As seen in the docuseries, there were so many things about Lam’s case that captured the interest of web sleuths, who were determined that the only explanation was the most complicated one. For many, that involved paranormal activity, thanks to a suspicious elevator tape of Lam’s seemingly bizarre behavior and the hotel’s long history of death. For others, she was murdered by one of the tenants or hotel guests, namely Pedro Vergara, who was wrongfully accused of being responsible for Lam’s death.
When it comes to what Vergara went through, subject of threats and accusations, Price feels sorry for him. “I mean, it’s so clear that he was deeply affected by this and I think bullying would apply in this. This guy had absolutely nothing to do with it and he was tormented,” she says.
But it didn’t stop there. For those investigating on the internet, everyone was a suspect and the employees even came under scrutiny, with the hotel accused of attempting to cover things up and edit the elevator footage.
“It was really hard,” Price says of trying to protect her colleagues, who were still reeling from the shock of her death and eventually discovering her body. “It was hard on our entire team. You have to remember, I was a general manager so I was responsible for making sure that our employees were getting through the process and all that. There wasn’t anything easy about it.”
While the docuseries will undoubtedly spark the interest of conspiracy theorists again, Price knows the truth of what happened to Lam in addition to her time working at the hotel. “To have an opportunity to really speak the truth, it was an opportunity and I’m glad I did, especially with the outcome of the show,” she says.
After watching this docuseries, she hopes people’s questions are answered. “At the end of the day, I hope there's healing for everybody. At the end of the day, somebody passed away here and I think that it will answer a lot of questions.”