Naked and Afraid contestant Melanie Rauscher has died at the age of 35. Though an official cause of death has yet to be released, police have determined the young contestant died under suspicious circumstances.
According to officials, Melanie Rauscher was dog sitting at a home in Prescott, Arizona, while the owners were on vacation. On July 17, the homeowners returned to find Melanie, who appeared on two seasons of the hit survival show Naked and Afraid, dead on the bed in the guest room.
Corey Kasun, a representative for the Prescott Police Department, revealed that several cans of compressed air (used for dusting electronics) were found near the body. Compressed air is a toxic substance. If directly inhaled, it can cause permanent brain damage and other neurological deficits.
It’s unclear, however, if Melanie consumed the contents of the cans. Police say there were no obvious signs of foul play, nor did they find a suicide note or drug paraphernalia.
The Naked and Afraid contestant’s cause of death is currently under investigation by the Yavapai County Medical Examiner.
Fellow ‘Naked and Afraid’ Contestant, Fans Mourn the Death of Melanie Rauscher
Following the news of her death, friends and fans took to social media to mourn the loss. Melanie Rauscher’s Naked and Afraid castmate and close friend, Jeremy McCaa, posted a picture of himself and Melanie to his social media, captioning the image “Swamp Queen and I.”
Fans took to the comments to send their condolences to the late contestant’s devastated friend. “So sad to hear this news. The friendship between you two was inspiring! I hope you both find peace,” one fan wrote. “My favorite NAA couple/partners. I know you’ll see your Mel again, Jeremy McCaa. Now instead of being your jungle wife, she’ll be your guardian angel looking after you,” another said.
Jeremy McCaa and Melanie Rauscher first met in 2017, when they were paired together for the Naked and Afraid – “Curse of the Swamp”. During their time together on the survival show, the two battled gators, snakes, and swarms of mosquitos in the swamps of the Louisiana bayou.
Melanie became Jeremy’s partner when his initial castmate abandoned the challenge just a few days in. “The production crew told me he was also resting in his hotel room, so when I found out he was alone out there, I was a little pissed,” Melanie explained to a Naked and Afraid fan site.
“I honestly don’t think 21 days out there, alone, is possible,” she continued. “I am just glad that he was able to stick it out until I got there! My hat’s off to him because I can’t understand how he even did a single night alone!”