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Ballet dancer found dead in rural Missouri lake

Authorities are investigating the death of a St. Louis ballerina who was found dead in a rural Missouri lake, the state's highway patrol said. (Missouri State Highway Patrol)

MONROE COUNTY, Missouri — Authorities are investigating the death of a St. Louis ballerina who was found dead in a rural Missouri lake, the state’s highway patrol said.

The body of Raffaella Maria Stroik, 23, was found Wednesday more than 100 miles northwest of St. Louis in the Mark Twain Lake.

More than 100 law enforcement officers, volunteers and family members were searching for her in the Mark Twain State Park when a private plane pilot who had joined the search spotted her body in the water, officials said in a statement.

There were no immediate signs of foul play, but the investigation into her death is still ongoing, Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Eric Brown told reporters.

An autopsy has been set for Thursday, Brown said.

Stroik was reported missing Tuesday after her vehicle was found unattended near the park’s boat ramp parking lot. Authorities believe her vehicle had been there at least since Monday. Brown said investigators don’t know why she was in the state park.

She was last seen Monday morning at a Whole Foods Market in the St. Louis suburb of Town and Country, Missouri, officials said.

Stroik had joined the Saint Louis Ballet last year, performing in the company’s productions of “Cinderella,” “Giselle,” “The Nutcracker” and “La Vie.”

“She was a wonderful dancer and a beautiful person. We extend our condolences to her family. We are so very sad over the loss of this talented and beautiful spirit,” the company said in a statement.

The young dancer was also a ballet teacher at Expressions Academy of Dance in Belleville, Illinois, according to the studio’s website.