Vaughan Foods beheading incident

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Vaughan Foods beheading incident
Location Moore, Oklahoma, U.S.
Date September 24, 2014 (2014-09-24)
4:15 p.m.[1]
Attack type
Decapitation, stabbing
Weapons Knife
Deaths 1
Non-fatal injuries
2 (including the suspect)
Suspected perpetrators
Alton Alexander Nolen

The Vaughan Foods beheading incident occurred on September 24, 2014, when a man attacked two female employees at the Vaughan Foods food processing plant in Moore, Oklahoma, United States, with a knife. Colleen Hufford was beheaded, while another employee, Traci Johnson, was stabbed and critically injured. The suspect, identified as 30-year-old Alton Nolen, who was fired from the plant prior to the attack, was then shot and wounded by Vaughan Foods Chief Operating Officer Mark Vaughan.[2][3][4] Alton Nolen was charged with first-degree murder and assault and battery with a deadly weapon, and may also face federal charges as well.[5][6][7] The attack came to national attention due to its gruesome nature, which followed a recent series of beheadings carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Attack

On September 24, 2014, an "angry employee", later identified as Alton Nolen, was suspended[8] from his job at Vaughan Foods in suburban Oklahoma City. Immediately afterwards, he went home to retrieve a knife and placed it inside his shoe. He then drove to the plant's main distribution center, crashed into a parked car,[7][9] and entered the front administrative office area at around 4:15 p.m.[1] There, according to detectives, he attacked a female employee from behind with the knife, slashing her throat and beheading her.[6][10] Other coworkers tried to stop him during the assault by kicking him and throwing chairs at him. Then, he slashed the throat and face of another female employee, intending to behead her as well, before being shot and wounded in the arm and abdomen by Vaughn Foods Chief Operating Officer Mark Vaughan, who was also an Oklahoma County reserve deputy, before being arrested by responding police.[11][12][13][14]

Victims

The slain victim in the attack was identified as 54-year-old Colleen Hufford. Her cause of death was verified to be "decapitation due to multiple sharp force trauma to neck" and classified as a homicide.[15] 43-year-old Traci Johnson, the injured victim, was treated at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center for multiple stab wounds and survived her injuries.[16]

Suspect

Alton Alexander Nolen, age 30, was identified as the sole suspect in the attack. He worked as a production line employee at Vaughan Foods before being suspended. He was charged with assault and battery on a police officer after being pulled over in 2010 for having a suspended license plate. He fled, sparking a massive manhunt that lasted for twelve hours. Nolen was sentenced to five years in prison, but was released on March 2013 after serving two years and ordered to attend an anger management course.[1] He was also convicted of cocaine possession with the intent to distribute during the following year.[6]

Nolen had been suspended from his job prior to the attack due to "personnel issues", although specific details still remain unclear.[16] Injured victim Traci Johnson later claimed it was from an altercation she had with him when he stated he "did not like white people".[7] The weapon he used in the attack was a standard knife used by employees to cut lettuce and other vegetables, allegedly acquired from his home.[7][17] According to Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn, Nolen reportedly had three specific targets for the attack, including Johnson.[13] The other two reported targets were not hurt during the incident.[18]

Reported Islamic connection

The motive for the attack was initially unclear, as Nolen reportedly appeared to be angry and acting out. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was called in, however, after it was reported he had tried to convert other employees to Islam. Police officials believed that Nolen had been recently converted while imprisoned, as prison records show that Nolen has a tattoo reading "Assalamu Alaikum", an Arabic greeting that translates to "Peace be with you".[2] After his arrest, news websites published information from his Facebook page, in which he calls himself "Jah'Keem Yisrael" and uploaded photos of himself reading the Koran and wearing Muslim religious clothing.[19] His online posts were often related to Islamist interests, condemning the United States and Israel, also claiming that sharia law was coming.[1] Investigators found that he began worshiping at a mosque in Oklahoma City, though it was unclear which one. His behavior was described as "a little odd", but not raising any "red flags".[6][16]

His Facebook page features photos of Taliban fighters and Osama bin Laden, as well as a photo of the September 11 attacks that was captioned:

"A Future Prophecy Revelation 18:8 She (The statue Of Liberty) is going into flames. She and anybody who's with her." [sic][20]

Police stated that they are investigating the incident as workplace violence, and established that it was not a domestic situation. In light of recent concerns about beheadings carried out by ISIS, Moore police immediately announced they could find "no evidence the attack was inspired by any similar events in the Middle East or by religious fundamentalism". Nevertheless, many media outlets speculated on whether the suspect's recent conversion and his affinity for radicalized militant causes was being minimized or could have been a motive for a lone-wolf attack.[21][22] Also, according to prosecutors, Nolen had what was described as an infatuation with beheadings.[23]

Patrick T. Dunleavy, author of The Fertile Soil of Jihad: Terrorism’s Prison Connection, calls it likely that Alton's actions were the result of radicalization.[24]

Legal proceedings

On September 30, Nolen was charged with first-degree murder and assault and battery with a deadly weapon.[7][8] According to police, he "openly admitted" to killing Hufford and injuring Johnson during the attack.[9] Prosecutors are expected to pursue the death penalty in the case.[13] A preliminary hearing was scheduled for October 14,[25] but it was later rescheduled to December 2 due to a scheduling conflict with Nolen's lawyers.[26] It was rescheduled again to April 2015.[27] The preliminary hearing was delayed again until June 10,[28] but it was postponed again until July 30.[citation needed] On September 15, 2015, a competency trial for Nolen was set for October 26.[29] The judge ruled he is competent to stand trial.[citation needed]

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Alton Nolen's Facebook rants who beheaded woman in Oklahoma". Mail Online. 27 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Alton Nolen Allegedly Beheads Oklahoma Coworker After Firing". The Huffington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Greg Botelho, CNN (26 September 2014). "Police: FBI probing past of Okla. beheading suspect - CNN.com". CNN.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "America's 1st Freedom – Mark Vaughan: NRA LEO Of The Year". americas1stfreedom.org.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Alton Nolen, Oklahoma beheading suspect, will be charged with 1st-degree murder, Associated Press, September 27, 2014.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "Alton Nolen, Oklahoma beheading suspect, described as "a little odd"". cbsnews.com. 27 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 "Oklahoma man charged with murder in beheading". Yahoo News. 1 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 AbOhlheiser (30 September 2014). "What we know about Alton Nolen, who has been charged with murder in the Oklahoma beheading case". Washington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Oklahoma beheading: Alton Nolen charged with murder". BBC News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Oklahoma beheading: FBI probing suspect's recent conversion to Islam". Fox News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Meredith Clark. "No evidence Oklahoma beheading linked to terrorism, police say". MSNBC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Alton Nolen Allegedly Beheads Oklahoma Coworker After Firing". The Huffington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 ""Alton Nolen likely to face death penalty for beheading Oklahoma co-worker, trying to behead other: DA"". nydailynews.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Laura Hendrix (30 September 2014). "Court documents: Second victim filed complaint against Alton Nolen". KOCO.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "FBI: Oklahoma beheading not linked to terrorism". KFOR.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 "Alton Nolen, Oklahoma beheading suspect, will be charged with 1st-degree murder". cbc.ca. 27 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Alessandria Masi (26 September 2014). "Oklahoma Woman Beheaded: FBI Investigates Suspect Alton Nolen, Reportedly Attemped To Convert Co-Workers To Islam". International Business Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Prosecutor will seek death penalty for Alton Nolen in Oklahoma workplace beheading". FOX6Now.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Oklahoma Beheader Alton Nolen Celebrated Terrorists On Facebook – The Daily Caller". The Daily Caller.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Oklahoma Beheader Alton Nolen Celebrated Terrorists On Facebook – The Daily Caller". The Daily Caller.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Paul Farrell. "Alton Nolen: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Oklahoma beheading: FBI probing suspect's recent conversion to Islam". Fox News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Friends and family gather to remember Oklahoma beheading victim, back fundraiser to aid family". Fox News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Zimmerman, Malia (10 November 2015). "ISIS flag, radical manifesto raise questions about Calif. campus stabber's motive". Fox News. Retrieved 11 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. ""Prosecutors will seek death penalty against Alton Nolen for beheading co-worker"". nydailynews.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Nolen's court appearance delayed". Norman Transcript.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Lisa Monahan (10 December 2014). "Vaughan Foods Survivor Speaks Out". news9.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "Judge Orders Mental Competency Evaluation"
  29. "Competency trial is set for man accused of beheading co-worker". NewsOK.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>