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Autopsy results on Elisa Lam return inconclusive

LOS ANGELES (NEWS1130) – An autopsy has been completed, but it will still take up to least eight weeks to learn how a Vancouver woman died in LA.

The coroner who examined the body of UBC student Elisa Lam has completed the initial autopsy.

“The cause of death is deferred, pending additional tests which include toxicology, histopathology and neuropathology,” says Ed Winter with the LA County Coroner’s Department.

He says the pathologist is waiting for more information too. “Maybe she was taking medication, or didn’t take medication.”

Winter says there are other questions surrounding the water tank she was found submerged in. “How did she get in there, why was she in there, and did it result in her death?”

He adds an investigation like this will also require additional help. “Criminalists doing the tox work and doctors reviewing the slides…tissue samples and stuff.”

Lam was last seen acting strangely in the elevator of the Cecil Hotel before she disappeared January 31st. Hotel surveillance footage showed her inside an elevator pushing buttons and sticking her head out the doors, looking in both directions

Barb McLintock with the BC Coroners Service — which is not involved in this case– says sometimes water can complicate an investigation. “The temperature of the water, and obviously how long someone has been in there. Were they fully submerged or partially submerged?”

She says the outcome could also be different if saponification has occurred.

“If you’ve got saponification you can probably get good tox samples out of it. If you don’t you might end up taking samples of liver or other organs that aren’t as good,” she explains.

Lam’s body was discovered by a maintenance worker at the hotel after guest complaints about low water pressure.