For a decade, Zak Bagans has been trying to investigate the infamous Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles.
The site of multiple suicides, murders and satanic worshiping over the years, the hotel has inspired books, films and even a season of the hit American Horror Story series. Now Bagans and his team of Aaron Goodwin, Jay Wasley and Billy Tolley take on the property for a two-hour Ghost Adventures special, launching on the new Discovery+ streaming service.
"I was literally shocked when we finally got permission to do this," Bagans, 43, tells PEOPLE exclusively. "They said this is the first and the last time that we will ever allow a paranormal investigation — and they shut the place down to the public, which made it more bad-ass."
While the team was already drawn to the hotel's dark history — including its connection to serial killer Richard Ramirez, who lived in the hotel during the 1980s — they were even more compelled to investigate following the mysterious 2013 death of college student Elisa Lam, whose body was found in one of the hotel's rooftop water tanks.
"That death has stuck with me throughout the years and that's really what drew me to the hotel," Bagans says. "I wanted to try to explore the theory that she may have been influenced by something, some kind of dark entity, possibly conjured by a serial killer like Richard Ramirez, who was said to have done rituals on the very roof where they discovered her body."
During their two-night investigation, the team retraced Lam's steps, including the elevator where disturbing security camera footage captured her exhibiting odd behavior shortly before her disappearance and death. "When you are walking through those floors and nobody is there even with the lights on, you could feel these spirits move through you, around you, they’re watching you," he says. "There was just something about this building."
While the team experienced physical afflictions, including unexplained scratches, it was a moment of paranormal activity that had the biggest impact on Bagans: Investigating alone in one of the hotel rooms, where serial killer Jack Unterweger stayed in 1991, Bagans says he witnessed the bathroom water faucet turning on by itself.
"I didn’t know what to do," he recalls. "You had to literally twist a handle for the water to go on; that wasn't a motion-activated faucet. That's one of the most terrifying moments that I had."
As for how he faces intense such fear on a regular basis, Bagans insists it's all about perspective. "You just have to tell yourself to calm down," he says. "In the moment I'm scared because of what is occurring, but I'm also being confirmed that there is more proof of an afterlife, which to me is rewarding."
The two-hour special, Ghost Adventures: Cecil Hotel, is now available on Discovery+.
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