With the pandemic keeping most of the world at home, Netflix and true-crime series have been hot topics and popular sources of entertainment.
And now, one of CSUN’s own is playing a role in a currently trending Netflix true-crime series.
John Sobhani ’07 (General Sociology) is one of the interviewees in the four-part series “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel.”
Described as a web sleuth in the series, Sobhani provides commentary about the community of internet investigators attempting to inform the public and unravel the mystery of the disappearance and death of college student Elisa Lam.
Sobhani, now a clinical dental student in Boston, started a Facebook group dedicated to the case, and it grew, he said, to 2,000 members.
“A producer noticed the Facebook group and was interested in speaking to someone who had extensively researched the Elisa Lam case,” Sobhani said. “They asked me to share my experience and interest in the case for the documentary.”
The case drew media attention in 2013 when Lam, a student from British Columbia on vacation in Los Angeles, vanished while staying at the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles — a historic building with a complex history. She was later found dead inside a water tank on the premises. The setting of her death and a surveillance video from inside the hotel sparked a community of internet sleuths to examine the case.
“This case drew my concern because when the news notified the public about her disappearance, it put me on high alert,” Sobhani said. “Elisa not only reminded me of many sisters with whom I have gone to school with, but the suspicious circumstances of her last known footage made me concerned. She was also doing something that I have loved doing: taking trips without telling many people to far places with different environments.
“There is a lot of mystery surrounding the disappearance of Elisa Lam. I suggest that people watch the documentary to understand what really happened,” Sobhani said. “I hope that I can be a small part of helping to give her a voice, so that I can further bring attention to those suffering with mental illness.”