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Murder charge expected in Oklahoma beheading case

Alton Nolen, who officials say beheaded a co-worker and attacked another at an Oklahoma food plant from which he was fired, is expected to be charged with murder.

Authorities expect charges to be filed Tuesday against an Oklahoma man suspected of beheading a co-worker and attacking another before he was shot by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy.

Detectives met with prosecutors Monday afternoon to present evidence, and Moore Police Sgt. Jeremy Lewis told The Times earlier Monday that they would recommend that Alton Nolen, 30, face charges of murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

The district attorney’s office for Cleveland County said it expected to charge Nolen early Tuesday afternoon.

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In a video statement released on Facebook, a woman identifying herself as Nolen’s mother apologized to the victims’ families.

“Our hearts bleed right now, because of what they’re saying Alton has done,” the woman said. “I want to apologize to both families because this is not Alton.”

Another woman, who identified herself as Nolen’s sister, said her brother had “never been a violent person” and that the family was “in shock.”

The Oklahoman newspaper reported that it had confirmed the identities of the women as Joyce Nolen, 50, Nolen’s mother, and Megan Nolen, his sister.

Nolen, a convicted felon, was fired from his job at the Vaughan Foods processing plant in Moore shortly before the attack began Thursday.

Police say Nolen rammed his car into another vehicle parked at the front of the business, then went on a rampage in the front office with a knife similar to one used on the production floor.

He is accused of beheading 54-year-old Colleen Hufford and then attacking Traci Johnson, 43.

Mark Vaughan, the company’s chief operating officer and a reserve deputy for the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department, shot Nolen and stopped the second attack before police arrived.

Witnesses told investigators that Nolen had recently been trying to convert several co-workers to Islam. The FBI has stepped in to assist in the investigation.

Company officials said employees were returning to work Monday, with each shift beginning with group gatherings reflecting on Thursday’s events.

“These conversations allow us to come together as a team and draw strength from each other,” Vaughan Foods spokeswoman Danielle Katcher said in a statement. “The loss of our Vaughan Foods family member remains very much in our hearts and minds.”

According to prison records, Nolen had a tattoo on his stomach that read “As-salaamu Ataikum,” which could be a misspelling of “Assalamu alaikum,” a standard Muslim greeting that means “Peace be upon you.” Nolen also had the words “Jesus Christ” tattooed across his chest and an image of praying hands on his right arm.

An autopsy has not been performed on Hufford yet, but Oklahoma medical examiner’s spokeswoman Amy Elliott said the of death was “decapitation due to multiple sharp force trauma” to her neck.

Johnson, the other victim, was released from the hospital over the weekend, Lewis said, after being treated for cuts.

Nolen remains hospitalized after undergoing surgery last week, but spoke to investigators on Friday, Lewis said.

Nolen had spent time in prison for a string of felony convictions, including marijuana possession, escape from detention, assault and battery on a police officer, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, according to Oklahoma corrections records. He was released from a halfway house in March 2013 and taken off probation in March 2014, said Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie.

For more breaking news, follow me @cmaiduc


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