Woman who survived beheading attempt recalls her ordeal as attacker gets death penalty

The man who beheaded a co-worker and nearly killed another in 2014 has been sentenced to death. 

Traci Johnson says the terrifying scenario began at a food processing plant in Oklahoma when one of her co-workers, Alton Nolen, made a troubling remark: "I hate white people."

In an interview with Inside Edition, Johnson described Nolen as "pure evil." 

Nolen was suspended and escorted off the property, but he returned later that day in a deadly rage and armed with a knife. 

He also had a list in his pocket, the intended targets of his violence. His first victim was Colleen Hufford, 54, whom he beheaded. Nolen had apparently learned how to commit the grisly crime by watching ISIS videos online.

Alton Nolen -- Beheaded co-worker at food processing plant in Oklahoma
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Alton Nolen -- Beheaded co-worker at food processing plant in Oklahoma
FILE PHOTO: Alton Alexander Nolen, 30, who beheaded a co-worker with a kitchen knife is seen in a picture from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections taken October 18, 2011. Oklahoma Department of Corrections/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
Alton Alexander Nolen, 30, is seen in a picture from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections taken March 25, 2013. Police said Nolen had been fired from the Vaughan Foods processing plant in a suburb of Oklahoma City September 25, 2014 before he entered a front office and attacked two women. Police said he stabbed 54-year-old Colleen Hufford and severed her head and then stabbed 43-year-old Traci Johnson. The company's chief operating officer, Mark Vaughan, who is also a reserve sheriff's deputy, was the first on the scene and stopped the attack by shooting Nolen. NOTE: MUGSHOT IS FROM A PREVIOUS ARREST REUTERS/Oklahoma Department of Corrections/Handout via Reuters (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Alton Nolen walking into court room for sentencing for beheading of Colleen Hufford. Jury recommended the death pen… https://t.co/y8f75CJmIv
‘I can rest in peace,’ victim says in response to jury’s decision on Alton Nolen case https://t.co/ZiQUwtEIUj https://t.co/1GgH5np5P3
Videos show Alton Nolen attacking detention officers at Cleveland County Jail in 2016 https://t.co/3BakTrgKIj https://t.co/KeQBK5hsvu
Tracy Johnson, who was critically injured by #AltonNolen, expresses relief at jury’s recommendation of the… https://t.co/0V0aJSjz5x

What followed were frantic calls to 911 that described Nolen running loose in the plant. 

He then tried to behead Traci Johnson.

“He made a mad dash at me and I don't know how to say it, had the knife up in his hand,” Johnson recalled to Inside Edition. “He had me pushed up against the wall of the men's locker rooms and just slicing. He was slicing me like a piece of meat.” 

The killer was only stopped when one of the plant's executives, who was also a reserve sheriff's deputy, shot him.

Nolen survived a gunshot wound to the stomach. He later told police that his intention was to behead her if no one stopped him. 

Johnson says the knife missed her jugular by a single millimeter, which was the difference between life and death.

As he was jailed for the crime, Nolen showed how he could become violent in an instant. He directed his fury at guards bringing books to his cell, raining down blow after blow. It took six officers to finally subdue him.

Two weeks later, there was another incident in which cops had to use a Taser, which did not do much to stop him. Again, it took six officers to stop him. 

Defense lawyers argued that 33-year-old Nolen, who was charged with murder, was schizophrenic and pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

During the trial, Nolen reportedly said he did not “regret it at all” what he did. 

He was later convicted and was sentenced last Friday to death by lethal injection, a decision that drew applause from one observer.

"It is a long process of getting over something like this," Johnson said. "Very, very traumatizing." 

Johnson says she has not been able to go back to work full time since the attack and is now living on disability.

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