When Pablo Vergara checked into Los Angeles’ Cecil Hotel in 2012, he filmed a quick video of himself and posted it online. One year later, the hotel room clip made him a main suspect in the case of Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old woman who mysteriously disappeared after being caught acting in a bizarre manner by a Cecil Hotel elevator camera. The video of Lam subsequently went viral.
However, it wasn’t police who targeted Vergara, it was instead a gang of internet sleuths, who haphazardly connected Vergara’s 2012 video with Lam’s 2013 disappearance due to his career as an extreme metal musician. The corpse-painted artist, also known as Morbid, had released a music video for the song “Died in Pain,” which depicted a woman running from a killer before ultimately being caught. In another track, Morbid sang about dumping a corpse in a body of water, adding the line, “I’m thinking China.”
Elisa Lam, who happened to be Chinese, was found dead in a Cecil Hotel water tank. Though Vergara wasn’t even in the United States when Lam disappeared, internet sleuths haplessly connected the dots within Morbid’s music, becoming certain that Pablo Vergara had murdered Elisa Lam.
Elisa Lam Video
The internet mob attacked Morbid’s social media and streaming accounts, getting his music deleted from YouTube and his accounts banned from Facebook and Google. They also publicly labeled Vergara as a murderer while circulating his photos online, even getting a Taiwanese news station to report Vergara as an official suspect.
“You’re constantly looking over your shoulder, you get death threats everywhere, all the time,” Vergara tells Loudwire in an exclusive video interview. “You can’t win, so you’ve got to formulate a way to survive. Mine was trying to walk away from it, completely turn my back on it, but that was after my suicide attempt. At a certain point … it feels like there’s no escape.”
Elisa Lam’s death was ultimately ruled as accidental, while her behavior in the elevator video was found to be a symptom of bipolar disorder, for which Lam had stopped taking her medication.
The online harassment Vergara suffered was an early case of extreme cyberbullying, which has become increasingly common in the age of social media. “This is a criminal act,” Vergara insists. “Cyberbullying is a criminal act. These people need to be prosecuted and when we see it happen, we need to take a stand, not just watch. You could be saving a life.”
Vergara also speaks of the misjudgment and vilification that metalheads often face. “Ted Bundy’s favorite music was the Beatles. Listening to the Beatles doesn’t make you good, just as listening to black metal doesn’t make you bad. I was just reading about Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend Rob Maltby from the U.K. They get savagely beaten and she dies. She’s only 20 years old and they do that just because she’s looking goth, because she’s wearing goth makeup and dark clothes. People need to wake up, we’re losing lives. People are being killed and people are killing themselves because of this. This is a serious issue.”
Thanks to a new Netflix docuseries, Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, Vergara has now cleared his name on a massive platform. “It took [Netflix] a while to convince me,” Vergara admits. “I just figured it’s something that’s gonna follow me all my life. Still to this day, I get hate messages. I’m going to have them all my life. I’m okay with that now. I think I did the right thing, because I’m starting to get a lot of [positive] messages from people around the world. They’re also taking an active stand in trying to stop cyberbullying.”
Vergara also says he hasn’t been able to make music since the 2013 swarm of cyber sleuths. “Sometimes I even think to myself, ‘I’ve been doing music all my life, since I was 16.’ I had a label, I had management, a lineup in Norway, all this stuff. Then it just stopped. I’m trying to get back to music. I do have a lineup here in New York, we’re thinking of making new music. I do have a lot of lyrics, especially now with all this crap. I have a lot to say.”
Watch our full interview with Vergara below.
Morbid: The Metal Musician Falsely Blamed for Elisa Lam’s Death
Pablo Vergara can be seen in Episodes 3 and 4 of Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, now streaming on Netflix. You can also watch a teaser clip for one of Vergara’s songs, “Died in Pain,” below and listen to his Died in Pain album here.
Slitwrist Died in Pain (Preview)