Eerie hotel mysteries

From murders to disappearances, these unsolved mysteries all have hotels in common.

Madeleine McCann

Three-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared from her hotel room in Portugal during a family trip on May 3rd, 2007. Madeleine was holidaying for seven nights with her twin siblings, her parents and a group of family friends at the Luz Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz. The McCann parents dined with friends the evening of Madeleine’s disappearance and checked on all three of their children periodically throughout the night—until Madeleine’s mother discovered her missing. Over the next 11 years the Portuguese police, private detectives and Scotland Yard, in the McCann’s home country of England, investigated. Despite their best efforts, the case is a mystery, and the circumstances still inspire Internet sleuth theorisers as well as shows like the new documentary series on Netflix, The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Bringing even more attention to the case are strong new leads, including the recent identification of a German national as the new prime suspect. A convicted paedophile currently in prison in Germany for sexual offences and drug trafficking, the unnamed suspect was in the vicinity of Praia da Luz on the evening Madeleine disappeared, and had a telephone conversation that ended just over an hour before she went missing. With German investigators initiating proceedings against the suspect on suspicion of McCann’s murder, it’s hoped that this tragic case might soon be solved.

Elisa Lam

The Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, California, is home to many unsolved mysteries and murders. The most notable case is of Canadian college student Elisa Lam who went missing in 2013. Three weeks after going missing, hotel maintenance found 21-year-old Lam in the water tank on the hotel roof.

Although law enforcement ruled her death an accidental drowning, the mysterious circumstances mean people still believe there is more to the story. Lam was last seen on CCTV footage from the hotel elevator acting strangely. It’s also worth noting that the roof is only accessible via a key for the staff. Many people wonder how Lam got there. She had bipolar disorder, but she had the proper amounts of medication in her system.

Sickening noises

Diplomats and CIA agents from the United States and Canada suffered from “Havana syndrome,” a mysterious disease some people also refer to as “the thing.” For everyone with the syndrome, symptoms like nausea, hearing loss, vertigo and nosebleeds, came after hearing a high-pitched noise in their hotel rooms or homes.

Medical experts from the University of Pennsylvania found that the symptoms are concussion-like, although there were no signs of suffering from an actual concussion. Theories about the noises and the cause of the mystery illness range from pure paranoia and nerves, to a new kind of airborne weapon. In May 2018, an American in Guangzhou, China had the same diagnosis, according to the Washington Post.

Danny Casolaro

Danny Casolaro, a freelance investigative journalist, worked on a high-profile story involving government officials that he code-named “the Octopus.” He was found dead in his hotel room while in West Virginia, USA to meet with a source. Although authorities labelled his death a suicide, his family suspects it was murder.

Rose Burkert and Roger Atkison

In September 1980, Rose Burkert and Roger Atkison stayed at the Amana Holiday Inn near Williamsburg, Iowa in the US. The couple got the last hotel room available thanks to a last-minute cancellation. The next morning, the housekeeper found the couple murdered – and there are some strange facts. There was evidence that the killer put their feet up on the desk, and that they carved a piece of soap.

The murderer also left one word written on the bathroom mirror – “this.” Making things even creepier, there was a mortician convention in town with many attendees staying at the Inn. After their death, rumours circled about the possible killer. One is that Roger’s uncle, a serial killer and recent escapee from a Nebraska mental health centre, is responsible. Yet, the case remains cold.

Claudia Kirschhoch

Claudia Kirschhoch, a journalist going to a press trip in Havana, Cuba, didn’t make it to her destination. The 29-year-old stayed at the Sandals Beaches Resort in Negril, Jamaica while waiting for available flights to the United States since she was not able to enter Cuba. Kirschhoch stayed a bit longer at the resort before mysteriously disappearing. The only missing things from her room were the clothes she wore the night of her disappearance.

Kirschhoch befriended bartender Anthony Grant whose behaviour, including calling in sick for four days after her disappearance, seems noteworthy. Further investigations found evidence of Kirschhoch in his car, but authorities don’t consider him a suspect. A 2002 judge ruling says Kirschhoch died of foul play, but there were no charges.

Jessica Kinsey

Jessica Kinsey from Missouri, USA, was last seen at a Dollar Inn in Cloverdale, Indiana in 1995. The 14-year-old girl originally went to a friend’s house for the day, but she left the state with acquaintances, 23-year-old Jimmy Hopkins and Mark Henderson. Jimmy enlisted Mark to drive the trio to the Inn. Mark checked on them in the middle of the night, after hearing loud noises, before going back to sleep. Jimmy took Jessica and the car the next morning. His travels took him to California and Tennessee before returning to Missouri, without Jessica.

Jimmy gave both police and Jessica’s family different reports of her whereabouts. One of his stories is that Jessica met a man named Capone. Jimmy provided an address to the hotel where they were staying – but it didn’t exist. Jessica’s family and the police repeatedly tried learning more information from Jimmy over the years. The police never charged him, and he died in 2008.

Room 871

Room 871 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC is allegedly the site of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s 2008 scandal. The mystery, however, revolves around the room number itself. According to the New York Times, the suite number went missing, reportedly forcing the hotel to nail the number plaque to the wall. No one knows who is responsible for stealing the plaque.