Melanie Rauscher, a contestant on Discovery's Naked and Afraid, was found dead in Prescott, Arizona on July 17. She was 35. Rauscher was dogsitting for a family while they were on vacation, and the family returned home to find her deceased.
Rauscher was dogsitting for a family on vacation, Prescott Police Department representative Corey Kasun told TMZ. When the homeowners returned on July 17, they found Rauscher deceased on the bed in their guest room. Police found "several" cans of compressed air, the kind used to dust off computers, near her body, Kasun said.
It is unclear if Rauscher consumed the contents of the cans and police said there were "obvious" signs of foul play. They found no suicide note or drug paraphernalia. The homeowners' dog was fine. The Yavapai County Medical Examiner will determine Rauscher's cause of death.
Rauscher starred in Naked and Afraid in 2013 and its spin-off Naked and Afraid XL in 2015. Her former co-star and close friend Jeremy McCaa shared several photos on Facebook, alongside a tribute on July 19. He called her his "swamp wife" and "Best friend."
"We had such a chemistry on the show and it blossomed into a friendship that goes beyond words could describe," McCaa wrote. "Her laughter was one of a kind. Her friendship was amazing. Even tho we [weren't] blood, we [were] family. I could always count on her. We had so many moments when we would just be there for each other."
"She was my swamp wife, a best friend, a strong woman, an amazing person and I'll always cherish our moments together," McCaa continued. "You're gone [too] soon and taken from us [too] early. You'll always be my Mel. I love you and I'll see you again one day. The world lost an amazing person. Please keep her family and friends in your prayers. See you again my Queen."
Rauscher was born in Philadelphia and attended Old Dominion University in Virginia, according to her obituary. She served in the U.S. Navy on the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt during the Iraq War and was a "passionate athlete" and a "natural comedian." She is survived by her parents, three sisters, and two nieces. A celebration of life will be held in Philadelphia in October. Donations can be made to the PTSD Foundation of America in her memory.