UPDATE: Local pilot who found missing St. Louis woman's body speaks out

11 months 1 week 7 hours ago Wednesday, November 14 2018 Nov 14, 2018 Wednesday, November 14, 2018 12:14:00 PM CST November 14, 2018 in Top Stories
By: Hannah Thomas, KOMU 8 Digital Producer, Evan Dodson, KOMU 8 Reporter and Kellie Stanfield, KOMU 8 Executive Producer
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MONROE COUNTY - The Missouri State Highway Patrol's Troop B found Raffaella M. Stroik dead in Mark Twain Lake on Wednesday morning. A private pilot who flew his plane around the area of the scene ended up playing a crucial role in the search.

The pilot, Butch Pennewell, said he spotted Stroik's Wednesday morning in the lake, after taking off from the Monroe City Airport. He said this is a tragic and sad situation.

"I'm just glad I found her, I wish I would've found her alive," he said. 

Another pilot from the same airport, Del Buckman, said things like this don't happen in rural Monroe County.

"It's bizarre, I don't know how a girl from St. Louis could be found by a boat ramp," he said. "It's just sad." 

Members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol Water Patrol Division responded and recovered Stroik’s body. The body was found south of the Mark Twain Lake State Park Highway 107 boat ramp in rural Monroe County. 

MSHP said there is no evidence of foul play at this time. MSHP also said there is no danger to the public.  

Sgt. Brown said a lot of people assisted in the search, including, members of emergency services, the fire department and law enforcement.

"We had around a hundred at one point," Monroe County Sheriff David Hoffman said. 

The 23-year-old was part of the St. Louis Ballet and is originally from South Bend, Indiana.

A park ranger found Raffaella Maria Stroik’s abandoned car on Monday morning in a parking lot at Mark Twain Lake State Park. 

"The following morning, a Missouri State Trooper and the park rangers returned again and the vehicle was still here which made it more abnormal than it already was," Stg. Brown said. "Contacted the family and was able to determine that Raffaella was indeed missing." 

Stroik was last seen on Monday in Town and Country, Missouri, about 100 miles from where authorities found her car.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol is being assisted by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office, Monroe City Fire Department, Monroe City Ambulance District, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Moberly Area Community College Law Enforcement Training Center. Friends and family of Stroik also helped with the search. 

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