Mezzanine Mysteries: 7 Storied Hotels With Unsolved Murders and Mysteries That Plague Their History

While most hotels are thought of as luxurious and inviting, there are others around the globe that simply can’t undo their past. From murders to pure lunacy, these are some hotels with unsolved mysteries at their core.

1. Cecil Hotel (renamed Stay on Main) Los Angeles, California

Located in downtown Los Angeles, the Cecil Hotel was renamed Stay on Main in 2011, likely in an effort to leave its dark past behind it. Over the past hundred years, there have been numerous suicides at the hotel. In 1944, an abandoned baby was found on a rooftop. Most notably, there have been several unsolved murders.

One such example is Elisa Lam, a college student from Canada who went missing in February of 2013. One month after being reported missing, Lam’s body was found on the rooftop of the hotel. But it gets even more mysterious, as hotel security footage shows Elisa going in and out of the elevator and attempting to hide inside the elevator, acting somewhat erratically.

There are many questions about Elisa Lam’s death, such as how she got onto the roof and how she ended up in a water tank. There was no rooftop access for guests of the hotel, as well as no way to get up to the water tank without a ladder. No one knows exactly what happened, but, based on the video, there have been all sorts of theories, from mental illness to paranormal involvement.

2. Golden Key Motel, Atlantic City, New Jersey (closed)

The Golden Key Motel built a reputation as the sleaziest, grimiest hotel in all of Atlantic City before being demolished several years ago. It was a popular site for drugs and prostitution, with rooms costing just $15 a night. It was also the stomping grounds of an unidentified serial killer known as the Eastbound Strangler.

In 2006, the bodies of four prostitutes were found behind Golden Key Motel. The victims, Tracy Roberts, Molly Dilts, Barbara Breidor, and Kim Raggo, ranged in age from 20 to 42, and each of the women had been strangled, with their shoes and socks having been removed. They were lined up carefully, with their heads facing downward.

For months, women and tourists walked around Atlantic City in fear, with no suspects ever being named. To this day, no one knows what happened to these four women. No actual crime scene was ever found, and the women’s personal belongings—and shoes—were never recovered. Locals have their own theories and suspicions, including a possible link to an unknown serial killer in Long Island.

3. Amana Holiday Inn (now named Heritage Inn Amana), Williamsburg, Iowa

An unsolved double homicide and its unusual circumstances put a damper in this Iowa motel’s reputation. It has been over thirty-five years, and there are still no answers as to what happened at the motel on the night of September 12, 1980. Roger Atkins and Rose Burkert, his mistress, were found dead by a housekeeper, with blood trails covering the entire room.

Both Atkins and Burkert had their skulls slashed, and Atkins had had several fingers chopped off. There was no sign of forced entry, and it looked as though the two had been entertaining company beforehand. The most unusual piece of evidence came in the form of a piece of soap. The killer had carved the soap and written one word—This—on the bathroom mirror. Another perplexing component? The motel had been hosting a morticians’ convention that same weekend.

The case captivated their small town and its surrounding area. Locals suspected Atkin’s deadbeat ex-boyfriend, but he had an alibi. One particularly interesting theory involved Roger’s uncle, a serial killer with sixteen bodies to his name who had escaped from a psychiatric center. To this day, the hotel murder case remains unsolved, despite hundreds of interviews conducted by local police.

5. Dollar Inn, Cloverdale, Indiana

Jessica Kinsey, a fourteen-year-old from Missouri, told her parents she was going to a friend’s house an ended up at the Dollar Inn in Cloverdale, Indiana with twenty-three-year-old Jimmy Hopkins. Jimmy later told police that Jessica was pregnant and they were on their way to New York to get married when they stopped for the night in Indiana. Jessica’s parents and the police will never know if that was true, as Jessica was never seen again.

That night, Jessica and Jimmy stayed together in a motel room, while Mark Henderson, a friend Hopkins had enlisted to drive them to New York, stayed next door. Henderson told police he heard loud noises from their room, sounding as if someone was being thrown against a wall. When he asked Hopkins, he was told they were having rough sex.

The next morning, both Hopkins and the car were gone. There has been no trace of Jessica since. Her family and friends maintain that she had not been dating Jimmy Hopkins and believe he murdered her in the hotel room. Unfortunately, Jimmy committed suicide in 2008 after murdering his wife, so there may never be answers.

6. Luz Ocean Club, Praia da Luz, Portugal

Madeleine McCann’s disappearance in Portugal made headlines for years, but its prominence does not make it any less eerie and peculiar. Madeleine was just three years old when she disappeared in May 2007 from a resort in Praia da Luz, a small village in Portugal. Her parents left her and her two-year-old siblings in their ground floor apartment as they ate dinner with friends less than one-tenth of a mile away.

The parents had checked on their three children at 9:05 PM to find them asleep, and Madeleine was gone when they came back at 10:00 PM. Her father later reported that he’d left the bedroom door opened just a crack during the previous check and had returned to find it completely open.

The McCann parents were initially named suspects, but they were cleared by Portugal’s attorney general in 2008. One of their dining companions told investigators that she saw a man carrying a child out of the hotel less than an hour before the McCann’s realized Madeleine was missing. This was a focal point for investigators and spectators at the start of the investigation until it was deemed to be a false lead.

Madeleine seemingly vanished, and the investigation revealed inconsistencies that made it increasingly difficult. The McCanns cannot remember if the front door was unlocked, and it’s unknown if the shutters in Madeleine’s room, which were found open, could have been opened from the outside. Over a decade later, questions continue to be floated around. Why did the kidnapper take Madeleine and not her siblings? Were the McCann parents involved? How did no one see anything? Is Madeleine still alive?

7. Hotel Del Coronado- Coronado, California

This stunning hotel was built in 1888 and made headlines for its stunning Victorian features and celebrity guests. Shortly after, however, the hotel became notable for a completely different reason. In 1892, a woman checked into Hotel Del Coronado under the name Lottie A. Bernard. Throughout her stay, she often complained to hotel employees of illness and various ailments.

Five days later, she was found dead of a gunshot wound on a staircase that led from the hotel to the beach. There was a gun found next to her body, and the case was quickly ruled a suicide by the police. However, the bizarre information uncovered during the investigation makes others doubtful.

Miss Bernard’s real name was Kate Morgan, and she and her husband Tom were thought to make their living as con artists. She told different stories to each employee at the hotel, including that she was dying of stomach cancer and that she was waiting for her brother to arrive. She was also estranged from her husband at the time of her death and had used numerous aliases during her recent travels.

There are some who maintain that Kate Morgan, who had purchased the gun that was found next to her several days before checking into the hotel, committed suicide, while others suspect that she was murdered, possibly by her husband or by someone who knew she had purchased the gun and wanted to stage the crime scene. Over a century later, the case remains a great mystery, and it is said that Kate’s ghost continues to haunt Hotel Del Coronado.

Read our feature story about the storied Hotel Del Coronado


The sad reality is that the world may never know the truth behind these unsolved hotel murders and mysteries. One thing is for certain, however. These unusual disappearances and murders have plagued the history of these hotels for years, bringing an unchangeable notoriety to their name.


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