A Tennessee woman has gone missing after going on a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend several weeks ago, in a case that shares eerie similarities with the high-profile 2021 disappearance of Long Island native Gabby Petito. Nikki Alcaraz, 33, was last seen on May 6 in Moriarty, New Mexico, after she went on a road trip with her boyfriend Tyler Stratton.
Nikki's brother has now claimed that her boyfriend attacked her in the Jeep Wrangler they were traveling with such aggression that a truck driver had to intervene and pulled him away from her. Interestingly, much like the Gabby Petito case, Nikki, her boyfriend, and their dog are now all missing.
Mysterious Disappearance Raises Fears
Nikki Alcaraz, 33, also known as Nikki Cunningham, left Nashville in early May with her boyfriend Tyler Stratton, 33, and their dog to see family in Orange County, California. They traveled in a Jeep, her sister Toni Alcaraz told KNRN-TV on Sunday.
According to the report, Nikki last texted Toni on May 8 to let her know she was in Arizona and intended to finish the trip.
"Then I didn't hear anything else after that Monday morning," Toni told the outlet. "I talk to her almost every day, so I am scared something happened to them."
Family members are worried since Alcaraz, Stratton, the dog, and the vehicle are all missing. Although there is no proof that they are dead, Alcaraz's family claims that her disappearance is extremely unusual.
The couple had a run-in with cops on May 4 in Torrance County, New Mexico.
According to Niiki's brother, she and Tyler were allegedly involved in a heated argument two days before while they were traveling.
Josh Alcaraz, the brother of the missing mother-of-two from Tennessee, claimed that her boyfriend hit her so violently while they were driving that a truck driver had to step in and pull him away.
"He beat her up pretty badly," said Josh Alcaraz told Fox 10.
"A truck driver had to pull him off of her, call the police, the police picked him up, took him a couple exits down and dropped him off."
A witness also claimed to have seen Stratton punch Alcaraz in the face, a Torrance County Sheriff's Office police report said, according to KNRN-TV.
However, according to the report, Stratton, who had blood flowing from his mouth and nose, told police that she had attacked him.
According to the report, neither wanted to file a complaint and authorities said that they were each given rides to different locations.
No Sign of the Missing
Stratton had an arrest warrant out for him at the time for allegedly breaking the terms of his probation in relation to a separate theft charge, but he evaded arrest, the report claimed.
Nikki then called her sister, "crying and upset," Toni told the outlet.
"Her eye was already turning black and you could tell she was beat up pretty bad," Toni told the station.
A family friend drove to New Mexico to bring Alcaraz to California but, "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," her sister said.
Around 7 am on May 6, Alcaraz checked out of the Super 8 motel in Moriarty, a city about 40 miles east of Albuquerque, and hasn't been seen since.
"We are kind of lost,' her brother said. 'We don't know what to do."
Nikki had frequently traveled that route, according to her brother, thus it was unusual for her to be disconnected.
"She's done that drive so many times," he said.
"She can do it in two days with her eyes closed, you know, so it's really, really concerning that it's been so long. We would like everybody to keep their eyes open, and if you see the Jeep, if you see him, if you see her, call somebody. Call the police."
The couple's encounter with law enforcement in the middle of their cross-country road trip bears eerie similarities to the disappearance of Petito, a 22-year-old travel blogger who was traveling cross-country with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie when she vanished in August 2021.
Petito and Laundrie were also stopped by police after a domestic dispute in Utah when police determined Petito and Laundrie had attacked each other and released them without charges.
Two months later, Petito's strangled body was found at a campground in Wyoming.
Laundrie had driven to his parent's house in Florida as public scrutiny increased. The manhunt eventually led to his suicide.
The Moab Police Department is being sued for wrongful death by Petitio's family, who claims that police should have held Laundrie rather than letting the couple leave.
Toni Alcaraz stated that she is "pray[ing]" for the wellbeing of her sister.
"I don't think she is dead out there somewhere, but it's all a possibility at this point, and I am really scared of that, but I'm praying that's not the case," she told the outlet.
According to the report, Nikki's last known location is New Mexico, where a missing persons report was made.