Police find body of missing 23-year-old ballerina in lake after her car was abandoned on a boat ramp
23-year-old Raffaella Maria Stroik had gone missing on Monday morning, with the search for her coming to an end after her body was discovered in a lake.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol has called off the search for a missing St. Louis ballerina after her body was found on Wednesday morning inside the Mark Twain Lake located in Ralls County and Missouri and Monroe County, Missouri. A park ranger first came across 23-year-old Raffaella Maria Stroik's vehicle abandoned on a boat ramp parking lot off Highway 107 in Mark Twain State Park on November 12. The car was more than two hours away from her last seen location — she was last spotted at around 10:30 a.m. the same day at a Whole Foods Market at 1160 Town and Country Crossing Drive, Town and Country.
While that particular ranger did not look further into the case as there was no missing person report on Stroik at the time, police kicked off a search for the ballerina after a state trooper came across her vehicle the next morning and found that all of the 23-year-old's belongings, including her cell phone, were still inside the car.
Agencies including the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Department of Conservation, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, Monroe City Fire Department, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Monroe City Ambulance District had conducted a search of the area, but it was a private pilot who spotted her body.
KMOV reported that the pilot saw Stroik's body in the waters of the Mark Twain Lake at around 9:30 a.m. in the morning on November 14, with the water division of the Missouri State Highway Patrol then working to recover the body near a bank.
Stroik, originally from South Bend, Indiana, was a professional ballerina with the Saint Louis Ballet, having joined the company last year after previously training with the American Contemporary Ballet and Indiana University Ballet Theater.
The Saint Louis Ballet paid tribute to the 23-year-old after the news of her death became public, writing in a Facebook post, "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 this tribute if you knew her by saying something you remember about her."
Police have not yet revealed the cause of death but have stated that there were no signs of foul play. Autopsy results are pending.