Hotel Cecil Rooftop K-9 Search

Discussion in 'Elisa Lam' started by sillybilly, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. sillybilly

    sillybilly WS Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    The purpose of this thread is to ask questions of and get an opinion from a WS verified professional search dog handler with regard to the search by dogs that took place for Elisa Lam on the rooftop of the Cecil Hotel, sometime between the dates Feb 1 through Feb 5.

    Oriah is a WS verified professional search dog handler who will be joining us shortly after catching up on the details of Elisa's case.

    For the benefit of any handlers who join in this discussion, this is a brief summary as it relates to the search of the rooftop of the Cecil Hotel:

    Jan 31 2013 Elisa disappeared (some account say early morning hours of Feb 1). To our knowledge, the last recorded siting of her was as she left the elevator inside the Cecil Hotel.

    Feb 6 2013 LAPD went public with her disappearance and said the hotel had been searched with dogs (Note: specific date of search and type of dog are not known)

    Feb 19 2013 Elisa’s body was found in a water tank atop the roof of the 15 storey Cecil Hotel. Access to the top of the water tank in which she was found would appear to be either by a ladder at the side of the tank (wooden ladder, and unknown if it was there at the time of her disappearance), or from the top of a 2-storey maintenance loft located immediately adjacent to the tank in which she was found. Access to the top of that 2-storey maintenance loft is by a metal ladder affixed to the side of it.

    An LAPD spokesperson has been quoted as saying it is his understanding the hatch on top of the water tank was closed at the time the rooftop was searched.

    There was no precipitation in Los Angeles for the period Feb 1 through Feb 5.

    Online historical weather data reports temperatures and wind speed were:

    Wind Speed Mph
    Mean/Max

    Feb 1 .58 – 8
    Feb 2 .12 – 2.9
    Feb 3 1.04 – 4.1
    Feb 4 .58 – 5.1
    Feb 5 .58 – 4.1

    Degrees F
    Min/Mean/Max

    Feb 1 50/60/76
    Feb 2 56/63/75
    Feb 3 56/67/77
    Feb 4 50/59/72
    Feb 5 54/55/60
     
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  3. sillybilly

    sillybilly WS Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    Some pics that may be helpful:
     

    Attached Files:

  4. sillybilly

    sillybilly WS Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    Ladder from rooftop to top of 2-storey maintenance loft:
     

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  5. noodled1

    noodled1 Active Member

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    This looks great Silly
     
  6. Oriah

    Oriah Verified Expert

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    Hi everyone, another member asked me to pop in over here after I got caught up on the case.

    Several thoughts:
    I took a look at the photos kindly provided by SillyB, and am a little confused trying to figure out what K9 SAR technique would have been used to effectively clear the roof.
    Two main reasons:

    1-The issue with the water confuses me; it's been listed as a cistern in some articles and a water tank in others. So possible problem in translation? One is open, the other is sealed. That makes a big difference in scent dog work. Especially if it is made of a non-permeable material.

    2-How was access gained for K9(s) to the roof? Is there internal access to the roof, as there is in most multiple storey structures?
     
  7. noodled1

    noodled1 Active Member

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    Hello there thanks for taking the time to answer some questions and offer your insight..

    To answer your questions. I's a water tank, looks to be made of galvanized sheet metal, probably coated with epoxy on the interior.

    The dogs would have used a stair well that leads to the roof

    In a picture of the roof you'll see the 4 water tanks, right next to them is the 2 level elevator mechanical building and maybe 20 feet from that you'll see a smaller structure with a single door, looks like a fancy outhouse, that would be where the stairs lead to the roof
     
  8. Oriah

    Oriah Verified Expert

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    Does anyone know on what level the dog(s) were brought in to work? Did they work the entire stairwell from ground/parking all the way up to the roof?
     
  9. noodled1

    noodled1 Active Member

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    I don't think we have that information. About all we know is a remark from the LAPD saying the dogs didn't detect anything on the roof or the areas in the hotel they were allowed to search.


    The dogs were brought in when she was still considered a missing person early on
     
  10. sillybilly

    sillybilly WS Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    <bbm>

    WADR, I don't believe that's quite accurate. LE didn't say the dogs didn't detect anything. We know the search didn't result in them finding Elisa in the water tank (if her body was in fact there at the time of the search), but we don't know if they alerted at any time within the hotel or on the rooftop. They could have alerted somewhere, just that we haven't been told one way or another.
     
  11. noodled1

    noodled1 Active Member

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    That's true
     
  12. OCSlacker

    OCSlacker New Member

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    Thank you so much for your time and input. I have a few quick questions.

    If a person is reported missing what type of dog is usually brought in? (i.e. search, water,corpse) not sure if this is the correct lingo but I'm sure you get the idea. I'm assuming search but know nothing about this sort of thing.

    Can you take us briefly through what would happen if you were leading a dog in a search of this type?

    Would they start at the persons hotel room and attempt to pick up a scent & follow it from there?

    Do you think it is common to have the dogs on the roof or do you believe that the dogs led the handler there?

    Once on the roof, if say 5 days passed would the area of the search(roof) still hold a scent for the dogs to follow and is it possible that a dog would be able to detect a body in the water tank?

    Thanks so much
     
  13. sillybilly

    sillybilly WS Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    Hey Oriah :)

    Thank you so much for being here and taking time out of your real life. Hope your pups are doing better today (and that the vet is being kind to you .. mine always sees me coming ;)).
     
  14. Little Jedi

    Little Jedi "I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equa

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    I would also just like to add my thank's to Oriah.

    ( OT - Sillybilly - Naomi has posted again in the Gunning / Knott thread. )
     
  15. fred&edna

    fred&edna Well-Known Member

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  16. bessie

    bessie Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    :seeya: Hi, Oriah! Sorry I missed you today. Thanks so much for helping us out here. :blowkiss:
     
  17. Oriah

    Oriah Verified Expert

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    You're very welcome.

    Missing person searches that utilize K9's are extremely dependant upon the information provided to their handlers by LE. That often dictates what type of K9 is used; so for example, an elderly person who goes missing from their home who has dementia- SAR would likely utilize a trailing or tracking dog. After a week of not being found, they might switch to an HRD dog.
    If a person goes missing from, say, a vehicle where there is physical evidence that a violent crime may have taken place, SAR might search the area with an HRD dog first.

    In this case (and this is jmvho) I would have taken out a tracking dog from the place she was last seen. If that couldn't be established, I would have gone from her hotel room and if my dog picked up her scent, would have followed wherever that was.
    If my dog didn't pick up her scent anywhere beyond her hotel room, I would have swapped dogs and brought in an HRD dog. Then I would have worked the HRD dog through the entire hotel (including parking garage and vehicles parked outside) and all entrances and exits- so that would include the roof.

    5 days later, and with a properly trained HRD dog- yes they would absolutely be able to alert to the water tank.

    HTH?
     
  18. sillybilly

    sillybilly WS Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    <rsbm>

    Amended in this thread to read:

    &#8220;Answers from Oriah wrt this particular missing person K9 search are extremely dependant on receiving next to nil information provided to Oriah by WS members&#8221; ;)

    Many of us have believed that an initial dog search in a Missing Person case would have utilized tracking or trailing dogs. (Unclear how or if the concurrent manhunt for Chris Dorner might have affected K9 resources).

    That aside, and based on the premise that tracking or trailing dogs could have comprised the K9 search in that initial 5 day period, here are some of the possible scenarios we have considered that we have questions about:

    1) Elisa went onto the rooftop alone and entered the tank on her own
    2) Elisa went onto the rooftop with others and was killed there and placed in the tank
    3) Elisa was killed elsewhere and her unwrapped body transported to the rooftop where she was placed in the tank
    4) She was killed elsewhere, her body wrapped (i.e. plastic, suitcase, hockey bag) and transported to the rooftop where she was placed in the tank

    Questions in order of above possible scenarios:

    1) Would her scent still be detectable on the rooftop within those 5 days
    2) ditto
    3) Would her unwrapped body leave any or enough detectable scent
    4) Would her wrapped body leave any detectable scent

    Given all the unknowns, we know we&#8217;re asking a lot here, but appreciate any and all insight you can provide.
     
  19. Oriah

    Oriah Verified Expert

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    #1- the weather conditions and wind conditions at the time she disappeared favor a very good possibility of scent discrimination- whether deceased at that time, or still alive. Would depend on the K9 used, but not really many reasons to think otherwise.
    #3- Yes, the time lapse/weather/water situation is short enough to detect HR scent of both a body and material that may have been in contact with a body after death.
    #4- Yes- see above.

    If they brought an air scent K9 up to the roof (OR an HRD K9, OR a cross trained dog) I have no idea how they missed her, to be honest. Unless she didn't walk up there on her own, and they only used a tracking or trailing dog initially. :(
    So... I suspect she was in the water source shortly after her disappearance; they tried to track her, which was ineffective because that scent was gone.
    The HR scent would still have remained- but perhaps LE did not have access to an HRD dog?

    Michelle Le's case comes to mind.
     
  20. sillybilly

    sillybilly WS Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator

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    <rsbm>

    Thanks Oriah ... all makes sense to me, and all your above post is what I would have expected from the furbabes.

    PS: I'm one of the unpaid idiots who used to lie in bushes surrounding the airport in the pouring rain in the dark, while slobbering bullies hunted me down and drooled excitedly over me until the handler caught up .. when I wasn't stomping through bushes placing pseudo cadaver in places they always found :)
     
  21. Oriah

    Oriah Verified Expert

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    LOL!!
    That's not unpaid. That's one of the best paid positions around. Even if there's no money involved. :D

    Thank you.
     

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