NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Tennessee whose family says she disappeared while on a road trip with her boyfriend was seen at a Walmart in California over Memorial Day weekend, law enforcement said.
A deputy in Cheatham County, Tennessee, said Nikki Alcaraz was spotted at a Walmart in Redding, California, on Saturday. A photo was taken when she reportedly sold her phone at an ecoATM, a kiosk that offers payment in exchange for used phones, the county’s District Attorney General Ray Crouch said.
Despite the sighting, authorities are still asking for the public’s help in finding her.
Alcaraz had set out in her black Jeep with her boyfriend, Tyler Stratton, and a dog to visit family in Orange County, California.
During their cross-country trip, the couple had a run-in with law enforcement in Torrance County, New Mexico. According to a Torrance County Sheriff’s Office report from May 4, a witness saw Stratton punch Alcaraz in the face. The report went on to say that Stratton claimed he was also hit, with blood coming from his mouth and nose.
Neither of them wanted to press charges, so authorities said Stratton and Alcaraz were given rides.
Alcaraz was dropped off in Moriarty, New Mexico, where she called her sister, Toni.
“She was crying and upset. Her eye was already turning black, and you could tell she was beat up pretty bad,” Toni Alcaraz recalled.
Shortly after the fight, Toni Alcaraz said a family friend drove to New Mexico, where he met up with Nikki Alcaraz in hopes of bringing her to California.
“That morning when they were supposed to leave, she told him that she had to go back and find Tyler because she had a bad feeling, and so he left without her,” Toni Alcaraz said.
The sisters texted two days later, on May 8, when Nikki Alcaraz said she was in Arizona with plans to complete the trip to California.
“Then I didn’t hear anything else after that Monday morning,” Toni Alcaraz said.
The fear over Nikki Alcaraz’s disappearance has been heightened by some eerie similarities to the high-profile Gabby Petito case. The 22-year-old Florida woman set off on a cross-country trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, in July 2021. More than two months later, Petito’s body was found in a Wyoming national park.
Laundrie was found dead in a Florida preserve in October 2021 near a notebook in which he confessed to killing Petito.