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FIRST ON FOX: Police in California on Tuesday said they found a woman who went missing earlier in the month as she traveled cross-country from Tennessee with her boyfriend.
“On May 30, 2023, at around 4:30 P.M., the Redding Police Department learned Missing Person Nikki Alcaraz was contacted earlier today by the Eureka Police Department and found to be 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. Photographs from the original post have been removed out of respect for the involved,” police said.
Earlier on Tuesday, New Mexico deputies released bloody images, bodycam video and 911 audio of a domestic violence call involving a road-tripping Nashville couple as police in multiple states attempted to find the woman – who had been missing for weeks.
Nikki Alcaraz and boyfriend Steven Tyler Stratton were pulled over on May 4 in Torrance County, New Mexico, on a cross-country trip from Tennessee to California.
She was later considered missing – although police said she was seen alive over the weekend at a Walmart store in Northern California. The bodycam video, however, painted a complicated picture of the days leading up to her disappearance.
“There was an altercation between me and my girlfriend,” Stratton can be heard telling an EMT when she arrives for treatment and asks him what happened. Later, he tells her he has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
According to the incident report, a witness told a Torrance County deputy that he saw Stratton punch Alcaraz in the face on the side of Interstate 40 on May 4. Authorities were already on the way to the scene after dispatch received a call from a screaming woman who abruptly stopped responding.
The reporting witness, a truck driver, told a responding deputy that he pulled over ready to fight Stratton after what he saw.
“So I was, I was driving, I seen her sitting on the ground and the dude f—ing cock back and either slap her or punch her, and I got family, I got sisters and stuff, I would never, you know?” he tells the officer. “So I pulled over, I was ready to fight him, really, but he was calm.”
Instead, he got in the middle and asked Alcaraz if she was OK. She asked him to call 911, he said.
Alcaraz had bruises and red marks on her skin and initial told the deputy she wanted to press charges, the video shows. But minutes later when the deputy approached Stratton, he found his face covered in blood.
“I don’t know what happened,” the trucker later told the deputy as they discussed the possibility that the two had been mutual combatants. “But just her being on the floor, and him f—ing hitting her while she was down, I don’t think she’s the aggressor.”
“I think she was probably defending herself at one point,” he added.
Stratton was initially sitting on the pavement, smoking a cigarette and not wearing shoes when the deputy approached.
The deputy cuffed Stratton and confiscated a knife from his front right pocket.
There was blood running down the side of the car, and deputies determined the two to be “mutual combatants” after allegedly pummeling each other while driving down the highway.
The deputy at one point pushes Stratton on whether Alcaraz may have been the aggressor. The cuffed man insists he does not want to change his story or press charges.
“We’re having issues because there’s a lot of other stuff going on,” Stratton tells the deputy. “Mental issues with her.”
The deputy asks if she has been diagnosed with anything, and he says he’s not sure.
“I haven’t ever seen Nikki act like this before,” Stratton says. “I don’t want to get her in trouble or anything, but she’s been blacking out off of like one or two beers and hitting me for the past two months.”
Both of them appeared to have been drinking, according to the incident report – but each denied having been behind the wheel. Ultimately, police split them up, impounded the car and filed no charges.
Before leaving, the witness made one last observation to the deputy.
“She seems like a sweet girl,” he said. “She’s definitely a little rough around the edges, but nobody deserves that.”
The day after the altercation, Alcaraz showed up to retrieve her vehicle from a tow yard in the company of another man, according to the incident report.
Prior to her disappearance, Alcaraz, also known as Nikki Cunningham, had last spoken with family via text on May 8, according to the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee.
The couple was headed from Ashland City to Orange County, California in Alcaraz’s black 2013 Jeep Wrangler, authorities said. The license plate is BGL3539, and she has a bumper sticker reading “Mama Tried” or “Mama Tired.”
Due to a history of domestic violence, Alcaraz was thought to have been in danger, according to the sheriff’s office.
Alcaraz is 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs about 160 pounds. She has a large tattoo across her chest, a piercing in her upper lip and dark hair.
The case has drawn comparisons to the murder of Gabby Petito, who was killed in Wyoming during a cross-country “van life” road trip with former fiancé Brian Laundrie, just two weeks after the couple was involved in a public domestic violence incident in Utah.
Police also released 911 audio and bodycam from several deputies who arrived as backup. Fox News Digital is still going through the materials.
Fox News’ Haley Chi-Sing, Matteo Cina and Brooke Curto contributed to this report.