Woman Who Went Missing on Cross-Country Trip to Calif. Found Safe
A Tennessee woman who went missing while on a road trip to Orange County has been found safe.
Nikki Alcaraz, a 33-year-old mother of two, was on her way from Tennessee to visit her uncle in Orange County and was expected to arrive May 12. The last time Alcaraz was in contact with her family was May 8. She was reported missing after failing to arrive in Orange County.
This past weekend she was spotted in Northern California at a store in Redding. Tennessee’s Cheatham County Sheriff’s Department has a photo of Alcaraz where she reportedly sold her phone at an ecoATM inside a Walmart.
The Redding Police Department in said Tuesday that the Eureka Police Department had reached out to them to let them know they’d contacted Alcaraz and that she was safe.
“The Redding Police Department has been in contact with the Moriarty, New Mexico Police Department and confirmed Nikki is no longer considered a missing person. The Redding Police Department would like to thank our allied agency partners who assisted with efforts to locate Nikki,” the RPD said in a press release.
Alcaraz was driving cross-country with her boyfriend at the time of her disappearance. The couple left their home just outside of Nashville earlier this month.
On May 4, her cousin Lonnie Alcaraz said the couple got into a physical fight while in New Mexico. A police report showed Nikki Alcaraz with a black eye and a witness said her boyfriend punched her in the face. The report says the man claimed he was also hit.
“There was a truck driver that saw her on the side of the road who was being beat up by who we found out later was her boyfriend,” Lonnie Alcaraz said. “She was taken to the hospital and a family friend that they know came from OC to help her.”
Neither chose to press charges and left the station separately. A family friend offered to drive Alcaraz to California, but she insisted she needed to find her boyfriend. That was on May 6.
That same day, a license plate reader picked up Alcaraz’s Jeep near Flagstaff, Arizona, but police said her phone was out service. Her sister filed a missing persons report on May 12.
“The last contact was with her sister Toni. They were texting on Monday, May 8, and since then there has been no contact whatsoever,” Lonnie Alcaraz said at the time. “We appreciate anything of sort of getting out the word and showing her picture and I’m just hoping someone has some contact with her.”
The case received national attention because of similarities to the Gabby Petito case. Two years ago, Petito was found dead after disappearing on a road trip with her boyfriend. The couple also had an encounter with police, after reports she was struck by her boyfriend.