Missing Missouri ballet dancer, 23, found dead in lake

A Missouri ballet dancer’s body was found in a lake Wednesday, one day after she was reported missing, police said.

Raffaella Maria Stroik, 23, was found dead in Mark Twain Lake about 9 a.m. Wednesday after a private plane pilot, who had volunteered to search for the ballet dancer, spotted a body in the water, FOX2 St. Louis reported. Missouri State Highway Patrol Water Patrol Division members responded to the scene and recovered Stroik’s body.

“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,” the St. Louis Ballet, where Stroik performed, wrote on its social media pages.

It wasn't immediately clear how Stroik died, though authorities found no signs of foul play, FOX2 reported. An autopsy is set to be conducted.


Stroik was last seen Monday morning at the Whole Foods Market in Town and Country. A state park ranger then found Stroik’s unattended vehicle at Mark Twain Park, about 100 miles northwest of St. Louis, with the dancer’s cellphone and personal belongings still inside. Stroik’s family filed a missing person report on Tuesday.

"Her keys were found lying outside the vehicle," Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Eric Brown said. "They appeared to have been intentionally placed in a certain spot on the vehicle."

About 100 people had joined a search for the dancer.

Stroik, who is originally from South Bend, Indiana, joined the St. Louis Ballet in 2017 and performed in “Giselle,” ‘The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake.”