- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

MOORE, Okla. (AP) - The woman who was beheaded during an attack at an Oklahoma food plant where she worked was “a caring and compassionate woman” who loved her family and her life, the woman’s daughter said Wednesday.

“She made me feel loved every day,” Kelli Hufford said almost two weeks following the Sept. 25 attack in Moore that killed her mother, Colleen Hufford. “She was a loving wife to my father. She was an adoring mother to me. And a fantastic grandmother to my daughter, Riley.”

She said she and other family members, including her father, KC Hufford, felt “complete and utter shock” after learning her mother had been killed. But she said relatives, friends and neighbors have reached out to console them and help them deal with their loss.

“I think that now some of that shock has actually worn off,” she said.

Prosecutors have charged Alton Nolen, a plant employee who had been disciplined the day of the attack, with first-degree murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. They say they will seek the death penalty.

Nolen is accused of attacking the 54-year-old Colleen Hufford from behind, severing her head, and then stabbing another Vaughan Foods employee before being shot by the plant’s chief operating officer.

Hufford said she’s withholding the details of her mother’s death from her 5-year-old daughter until she is older.

Court records don’t indicate that Nolen, 30, has entered a plea to the charges. His attorney, Mitch Solomon of the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. Hufford did not discuss Nolen or the prosecution when talking to reporters Wednesday.

She said she and her mother had grown “very close” since living together the past year following a massive May 2013 tornado that destroyed her and her parents’ homes on the same street in Moore.

“It was a blessing in disguise, looking back now,” Hufford said. “We saw how strong she was, even through the tornado. And how much she wanted to just continue on as hard as it was to sift through the pieces that were left.

“We know deep down inside she would want nothing less than for us to keep continuing on.”

She described her mother, a Vaughan Foods customer service representative for about two years before her death, as “very open and accepting of just about anyone.”

Hufford said her mother enjoyed working with flowers and plants in the yard and was a devoted fan of the American Hockey League’s Oklahoma City Barons. She said the family will continue its tradition of attending Christmas Day hockey games in honor of her mother’s fondness for the sport.

“Hopefully, I have given you a glimpse into the life of a woman who loved her family, loved her hockey and loved her life,” she said.

___

Online:

Colleen Hufford memorial website: https://www.remembercolleen.org

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