6 Morbid Facts About People Dying In Hotel Rooms
At some point, we're all going to die; the question is mostly where. Will we quietly pass away at home, or in a hospital, or maybe in a ravine trampled by wildebeests? Well, statistically, a shocking number of you will kick the bucket in a hotel or motel room.
We talked to a couple of people who've seen their fair share of hotel corpses -- crime scene cleanup specialist Dale Cillian from BIOPRO and front desk manager Daniel Stransky -- to find out the likelihood that someone has been beheaded in the next hotel bed we crawl into. They said ...
Hotels Are A Magnet For Suicides And "Unnatural Deaths"
We're not saying that hotels are the Grim Reaper's all-you-can-eat buffet, but we're not not saying that, either.
First, for over a century, hotels have been what we guess you'd call a "popular" suicide destination. Dale Cillian (who has cleaned up after literally thousands of these suicides) believes hotels offer some "advantages" over dying at your house. "Sometimes people kill themselves in hotels because they're worried nobody will find the body. Other times suicide victims just don't want to be rude and mess up their house."
Of course, hotels also host plenty of guests going through a divorce or some other kind of upheaval. They seem to feature a mix of happy people on vacation and miserable people who wish they were at home. Add it all up, and suicide researchers regard hotels and motels as "lethal locations" -- people are over 19 times more likely to commit suicide in them, according to one study done in King County, Washington.
And that's just suicides. Several studies point to every conceivable type of unnatural deaths occurring in hotels and motels way more frequently than elsewhere. People are away from their families and support system, or out of town, or both. You get a higher rate of people smoking, using drugs, and/or going through some kind of mental breakdown. Guests can be killed by everything from gun murders to even, as Cillian once witnessed, "A guy with throat cancer had his throat rupture while he was in the hotel, and he bled out on the floor."
If nothing else, we're pretty sure these places are all haunted by now.
This Is Why Hotel Employees Are Always Stumbling Upon Corpses
Unless you work the Overlook Hotel winter shift, we wouldn't assume staffing the front desk included frequent brushes with death and horrific mutilation (but more on that in a moment). But if you ask Daniel Stransky, you'd be horribly wrong. "I've had employees discover bodies in rooms they were about to clean, and I've personally worked during multiple jumpings. We even had a woman die falling down the laundry chute."
And as shitty as death is for, you know, the people dying, it's immensely horrifying for employees. "I'd just recently helped a woman check in who wanted a room on the highest possible floor and on the front of the building," says Stransky, and you already can guess where this is going. "I'd assigned her something about halfway up, but she came back while I was on break and switched to a few floors shy of the top. Suddenly I heard a loud thud, almost like a car had hit a wall, and felt the area around me shake."
WARNING: The story only gets worse from here.
"I saw one of my maintenance guys inside the lobby, barely able to stand. His radio was turned up, and I heard nothing but yelling. The next 10-15 minutes were a circus -- guests in the lobby crowding around the door, cellphones out, security trying to control the crowd, managers trying to clear guests from the lobby, cops showing up. When my boss went up with security and the police, she'd left a suitcase open full of her documents and things."
He went on to describe the aftermath of a body hitting pavement from 25 floors up, but we'll spare you the details (we'll just say that cars parked nearby had to be carefully cleaned). "I went home and just laid in bed, staring at the ceiling. I didn't know how to process what I saw, and it took me a while to fully get over it. Nothing really prepares you for something like that."
Yeah, not really the kind of stuff one imagines learning in a Hospitality 101 class.
Hotels Don't Exactly Want You To Know About This Stuff
Obviously, hotels know deaths are bad for business. (Stranksy and the other staff got strict "Don't talk to the press" instructions after their jumper made the news.) The main goal is to just clean up and get the room ready for guests as soon as possible. "I generally find a room is off-market for about a week or so, and then it's fair game again."
Cillian has similar experiences during cleanups: "Everything needs to be discreet. If I'm going to a high-end hotel, I already know I can't wear shirts with my company logo. I have to keep everything in black bags and then red bag it in the truck, and make sure nothing I bring is marked. Sometimes we're going in through back elevators and stuff."
Not that all guests are alarmed by the truth. That incident in which a woman died falling down a laundry chute? According to Stranksy, "There was a lot of controversy over whether she fell or was thrown down ... about a year later, we had a group of girls staying with us for a bachelorette party. They came down to the desk waiting for their Uber, and one girl walks up to me and randomly asks, 'Can I move to the room where the woman was murdered?' She went on a whole thing about what she'd read about it, and how she thought the boyfriend murdered her."
That's not all that uncommon. A few years ago, the Beverly Hilton "retired" the number 434, because it was the room where Whitney Houston died, and people came from all over the world demanding to sleep in the same bed she'd died in. Now, you may be wondering if they'd actually keep that mattress, but that really depends ...
Cheaper Hotels Aren't Great About Cleaning Up
As you might assume, a nicer hotel is going to do a better job of cleaning up a dead body and its related fluids than a shitty motel will. What you might not realize is how those nice hotels pay for that cleanup. Cillian says it's charged directly to the deceased.
"Hotels take your credit card, so most of the time, I'm told they'll charge the credit card back. They're not too worried about cost, because they've got an open card and they'll just charge them." Seems like a really shitty thing to do ... until you realize what a difference that open card means for the actual cleaning.
"High-end hotels will usually try to replace anything that gets even a couple of spots of blood on them, but you really need to be careful of lower-end hotels. I knew a carpet cleaning company who kept getting calls from a cheap motel, and the owners wanted them to come in and try to use the carpet cleaning equipment to erase the bloodstains out of the carpet -- which is almost impossible -- instead of replacing it."
Well, that's just the carpet. It's not like they'd keep a bloody bed ...
"Even worse, sometimes somebody would get shot or stabbed in a bed, and the mattress would be soaked with blood, but they'd be hired to just try to suck the blood out of the mattress itself. If that didn't work, they'd just cover the stains with a mattress pad and call it a day."
There Are A Couple Of Ways To Tell If Somebody Has Died In Your Room
Knowing all those stats about people dying in hotels is pointless if you can't tell whether they were actually murdered in your room. We asked Cillian for what to look for, if you're curious about that kind of thing. "Look for mismatched carpet, or anywhere the carpet seems to have been replaced. Same thing with wallpaper and blinds ... sometimes you get lucky and things are replaced because of feces ... but it's usually because somebody bled on it."
Other oft-recommended tips include searching for weird amounts of flies in the light fixtures, or simply never leaving the comfort of your own home. Still, if you spot signs of a cleanup, it's not exactly easy to find out what happened, even for a professional.
Cillian was once in a room in Las Vegas when he noticed the carpet had clearly been replaced. "I didn't think anything of it until I looked up and saw a huge bloodstain on the ceiling. It'd been sort of cleaned, but you could see the pattern on the wallpaper where blood had run down. Somebody must have been sitting in the bed and put a gun under their chin, shooting the blood straight up."
This is the guy who literally cleans up blood for a living, so presumably, he can head to the front desk, ask for a room change, and give them his card in case they ever need better gore-cleaning in the future. But: "The hotel said they had no record of anything ever happening. I brought a bunch of pictures to the police, and they claimed they had no records either. Hell, I even talked to cold case, and again, no records of anything happening in this room."
The best the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police could come up with is that it wasn't a person who'd been murdered, but a can of ravioli or something. "They told me somebody had probably thrown some food up there, as if I hadn't already seen 10,000 crime scenes exactly like this before in my career ... I would bet everything I owned that somebody died in that room ..."
It's actually kind of hard to come up with an explanation that isn't, at the very least, super weird. Maybe they shot themselves but survived, and then checked out like normal? Maybe they shot an animal? Filled a Super Soaker with pig's blood as a bachelor party prank? Chopped off their penis and whipped the blood everywhere while screaming?
Sometimes A Guy Will Up And Chop Off His Penis
The good news is that not everybody who stays in a hotel has died. Sometimes they will in fact just hack their dick off because the Devil tells them to. According to Cillian (and these news articles we just found), somebody slicing their own penis off -- whether in hotels or elsewhere -- isn't as uncommon as you'd think.
"A pretty big hotel called about a guy who told the front desk that Satan was telling him to cut his penis off. Eventually, they sent somebody up, and what do you know, he'd actually done it. But he did it perfectly -- unlike one guy I'd worked with who tried to hack his penis off with car keys. At least this guy used a pretty sharp blade, but it was still like somebody filled a squirt gun full of blood and shot it all over the room -- walls, everywhere. They also couldn't re-attach it, which was weird, because he'd done such a good job cutting it, unlike the key guy, who did get his re-attached."
And of course, since Satan was involved, Cillian realized they'd eventually need a priest. "Because many of the housekeepers were Catholic, they absolutely refused to go on that side of the hotel -- you know, because of Satan. Word had gotten out, so I suggested to management that they call up the Catholic Church and get a priest to come in and bless their room or have an exorcism or whatever and invite the housekeepers. That's what they did, and it satisfied everybody. I've had to call priests several other times as well. Always does the trick."
So maybe nobody died in your room; they just sprayed their dick blood over every conceivable surface. But it's OK, it's probably also been blessed by a priest. Plan your next vacation accordingly!
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