02/08/2013 01:17 EST | Updated 04/10/2013 05:12 EDT

B.C. Woman Missing In L.A. Described As Caring, Kind

UPDATE: Feb. 19 - Police have confirmed the body of Elisa Lam was found in a rooftop water tank of the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles. It remains too early in the investigation to determine if Lam was a victim of foul play.

A 21-year-old Vancouver woman missing in L.A. is described by one friend as caring and conscientious.

Elisa Lam, a UBC student, was last seen by the staff at the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on Jan. 31.

Alex Ristea, who was friends with Lam in high school, says he was shocked to hear about her disappearance.

"It sent shivers down my spine because even though she wasn't a close friend, she was still someone I knew."

Ristea remembers Lam as being level-headed, someone who didn't drink or smoke.

“Honestly, probably one of the nicest people I knew just in terms of always caring for other people and going out there and supporting the community and volunteering for stuff,” he said.

"Elisa would have been the last person out of all my friends I'd expected to go missing on a trip. It's kind of scary. It hit me out of nowhere."

Ristea says Lam was in California as a tourist and had been posting photos on Facebook from the San Diego Zoo and the Conan O'Brien Show.

Investigators say Lam was in contact with her family on a daily basis and last made contact on Jan. 31.

In a press release issued Wednesday, the Los Angeles Police Department said "her reason for traveling in the state was unclear, but her final destination was apparently in Santa Cruz, California. It is also known that she tends to use public transportation, such as Amtrak and municipal buses."

Police said her disappearance is being considered suspicious, and may involve foul play.

The LAPD is working with the RCMP and Interpol on the investigation.

Here is a timeline of Elisa Lam's disappearance.

Photo gallery Elisa Lam Timeline See Gallery