CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Loved ones are relieved to learn Nikki Alcaraz was found safe after going missing earlier this month.  

Alcaraz set out for a cross-country trip and family became concerned after they hadn’t heard from her. Then, on May 4, police responded to a reported fight between Alcaraz and her boyfriend, Tyler Stratton, in Torrance County, New Mexico.  

On Tuesday, May 30, police responded after someone reported seeing Alcaraz in Eureka, California. She had previously been spotted at a nearby store on Monday, May 29. 

“It was 9:30 at night when we found out she was safe and they had found them, and I went immediately to the parents’ house and we all had a good cry and a good relief and just a happy time to know Nikki was safe,” longtime family friend Patsy Smiley said. 

“Because of your audience, we have found Nikki; Nikki is safe. She’s with a friend in Northern California. She’ll get medical attention that she needs, and we are just so grateful to everybody who has offered a hand in this,” Smiley added.  

Loved ones aren’t sure if Alcaraz has plans to return home to Cheatham County, but are thankful she’s no longer near Stratton. They are also wondering why more wasn’t done during the stop in New Mexico, after a truck driver reported seeing Stratton punch Alcaraz. Stratton also had blood on his face. The two were ultimately separated, and presumably reunited later. 

“I can’t imagine that they weren’t both arrested, because obviously they were both aggressors. Our law enforcement needs more training in how to react to domestic assault,” Smiley said.

Meanwhile, News 2 reached out to the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence for their thoughts on the interaction. Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Escue sent the following statement to News 2:

“States have different policies around arrest in domestic violence cases, and I cannot speak to the laws in New Mexico, though it looks like the sheriff is questioning whether policy was followed. In Tennessee, it is preferred that there would be an arrest if an officer has probable cause to believe domestic violence has taken place, even if the victim is not requesting that an arrest be made. In this case, there was an eye witness; there are visible injuries; the victim had been reported as a missing person, and she is asking for charges to be filed. In cases where two people are both claiming the other is the primary aggressor, police have protocol for identifying the primary aggressor. They would take into account the things mentioned above, as well as (domestic violence) history and the likelihood of future injury. It is surprising that no arrest was made in this case, and I can understand why the officer’s supervisor would want to take a closer look at that decision.

Cheatham County deputies plan to extradite Stratton back to Tennessee early next week. He also has a probation hearing scheduled in Nashville on July 6.