An Oklahoma man who had been suspended from his job was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the gruesome beheading of a co-worker, who was attacked from behind as the man sought revenge, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Alton Nolen, 30, could face the death penalty for Thursday’s deadly attack on Colleen Hufford, 54, at the Vaughan Foods plant in Moore. He also faces two assault charges.
The FBI is also investigating, given Nolen’s interest in beheadings and a recent surge in Middle East violence. Nolen had recently converted to Islam but Cleveland County Prosecutor Greg Mashburn said it appeared the attack was tied more to Nolen’s suspension.
Mashburn said Vaughan’s human resources department had suspended Nolen earlier Thursday after another co-worker, Traci Johnson, had complained she had had an altercation with Nolen “about him not liking white people.”
The prosecutor said Nolen grabbed a knife at home and “returned to get revenge.” He walked into the plant’s administrative office in suburban Oklahoma City and came across Hufford first, Mashburn said. According to the prosecutor, Nolen attacked Hufford from behind, severing her head, before turning his attention to Johnson, 43, who was repeatedly stabbed but survived.
The company’s chief operating officer, Mark Vaughan, a reserve sheriff’s deputy in Oklahoma City, leveled a rifle at Nolen and fired, striking him once and stopping the attack.
Mashburn said it was “highly likely” that he would seek the death penalty against Nolen, but would confer first with Hufford’s family.
While the FBI is investigating, and while he believed Nolen may have been using Arabic terms during the attack, Mashburn said the attack seemed to be tied more to the complaints against him.