Body of missing St. Louis ballerina discovered in lake
MONROE COUNTY, Mo. – The body of a missing St. Louis-area ballerina was found in the water at Mark Twain Lake State Park Wednesday morning.
Raffaella Maria Stroik, 23, lived in St. Louis but is originally from South Bend, Indiana. She performed with the St. Louis Ballet.
Divers found her body around 9:40 a.m. near the 107 boat ramp after a private plane pilot flying over the Missouri recreation area spotted what he believed to be a person in the water, investigators said.
The circumstances surrounding her death were not known as of Wednesday evening. An autopsy is being done to determine a cause of death Thursday morning. There does not seem to be any indication of foul play. Police say there does not appear to be a threat to the public.
Stroik was last seen Monday morning at the Whole Foods Market in Town and Country. Her vehicle was found the same day, two hours away, in rural Monroe County. The ranger who discovered the vehicle did not think it was suspicious because there was no missing persons report at that time.
A Missouri State Trooper saw that Stroik's car was still in the parking lot, Tuesday. The car was locked, and her personal belongings, including a cellphone, were found inside the vehicle.
"Her keys were found laying outside the vehicle," said MSHP Sgt. Eric Brown. "They appeared to have been intentionally placed in a certain spot on the vehicle."
Law enforcement contacted Stroik's family. Her family did not know she was at the lake, which is located about 150 miles northwest of St. Louis. They discovered she was missing and a report was filed.
Authorities conducted a search for the missing woman on the ground and in the air. Crews searched the water as well. The search was called off when it became too dark Tuesday night. There were around 100 people searching for her including community college students, firemen, and police officers.
Stroik's car was found on one side of the lake. The body was discovered Wednesday morning on the other side of the lake.
The St. Louis Ballet posted this message to Facebook Wednesday afternoon:
"As we process this heartbreaking tragedy, we want to take this time to celebrate this beautiful dancer, spirit, and human being. Her warm and bright smile will be so very missed in the hallways and in rehearsals. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with her family, those who knew her, and all the dancers and staff who are grieving. Please join us in in this tribute if you knew her by saying something you remember about her <3"
The Archdiocese of St. Louis says that they are praying for Raffaela Stroik at a mass today at the Cathedral Basilica.
This is a video from the St. Louis Ballet. They introduce new performers, including Raffaella Maria Stroik, to their Facebook fans:
This is an update from investigators: