Turn on desktop notifications for breaking stories about interest? On Tuesday, 45 years after Lindas brutal murder, authorities arrested the man that DNA evidence from a genealogy site allegedly points to as her killer: James Alan Neal, 72, of Monument, Colorado, officials announced at a press conference Wednesday. Anyone who may have any information on this unsolved crime is asked to call the Newport Beach Police Cold Case Tip Line at 949-644-3669. "We have heard from a number of her friends from when she was in school, and her death has touched so many people," Newport Beach police spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella said at the time. "I want to know if there are any other victims.". A man was arrested this week in the decades-old killing of Linda OKeefe, 11. James Neal, 72, was arrested in Colorado Springs, Colo., and charged with murder with special circumstances in the death of Linda O'Keefe, who was found strangled in 1973, a case that has. He will ultimately benefit more from a state prison sentence.. Linda O'Keefe, 11, vanished in July 1973 when she was heading home from school in Newport Beach. She had been strangled. Neals extensive criminal history and the circumstances of the 1973 sexual assault and murder of 11-year-old Linda OKeefe lead law enforcement to seek potential additional victims and witnesses. In addition to the count of murder while committing lewd acts on a child, Neal was also accused of lewd acts against two other girls under the age of 14 in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Their mother "carried that guilt the rest of her life," Borgeson said. Neal told McMillan he was the second of three children, never got along with his siblings, rebelled against his parents and was an emotionally disturbed child. All my life up to this day has been going in circles, Neal said. "The hit on the genealogical DNA came back and hit in January so it was very recent," Spitzer said. ORANGE COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - The suspect in a decades-old cold case died Wednesday while awaiting trial. "I hope that he has remorse. Police and prosecutors in Southern California thanked the FBI, the Colorado Springs Police Department and the El Paso County Sheriffs Department in Colorado for their assistance. He was the second of three children but had a difficult upbringing. Police hoped that retelling the girl's story through the modern-day medium would help people from a different generation form an emotional attachment to the case. I dont have any friends because Ive always been afraid to make any because I just figured they would only see me as everyone else has in the past.. Combining the latest in DNA technology with old-fashioned detective work led investigators to Neal, Lewis said. Records reveal Neal was arrested on Sept. 9, 1973, in Marion County, Florida, on a fraud charge for writing a bad check and unauthorized use of a vehicle. CBS 48 Hours: Lindas Story delves into the work put in to arrest James Neal in relation to Lindas rape and murder. Over 45 years ago, Linda went missing while. The 11-year-old was described as a gentle, lovely soul. "Our hearts go out to the victim and the victim's family in this case, having to endure decades without answers. O'Keefe disappeared while she was walking home from summer school. Nothing he said made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. For more than 45 years the case went cold -- until DNA was submitted to an ancestry website. He was always getting into fights and was always afraid to tell anyone how I really felt. . You can find out more and change our default settings with Cookies Settings. The investigation into the homicide remained cold for 45 years until Virginia-based Parabon NanoLabs used DNA to identify Neal as a suspect in the killing, leading to his arrest last month in Colorado. He has also accompanied police on undercover drug buys and also provided an award winning, eyewitness account of the execution of a North Carolina death row inmate. The novel investigative technique of genetic genealogy takes an unknown killer's DNA from a crime scene and identifies the suspect through his or her family members, who voluntarily submit their DNA to genealogy databases. Then, after he was paroled again in August 1963, he was arrested a year later for burglary and sentenced to nine months in the Orange County jail. Based on a witness statement, it was believed a man in a van kidnapped Linda. Then her mother made that call that every parent dreads and told police her daughter was missing, he said. Police and prosecutors on Wednesday said they put Neal under surveillance and eventually got his DNA though they did not detail exactly how. I want to make up for all the hurt I have caused myself and my parents, especially my mother, Neal, who was 19 at the time and went by James Albert Layton Jr., told Orange County probation officer David R. McMillan in 1966 while awaiting sentencing for a burglary conviction. 2023 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Neal currently lives in Colorado, but investigators were able to confirm that he lived in California in the 1970s, when Linda was murdered, Spitzer said. "But it created an awareness . The database was Family Tree DNA. James Alan Neal has been arrested in the July 1973 murder of 11-year-old Linda Ann O'Keefe in Newport Beach. Her body was found the next morning in a ditch in the area of Newport Beachs Back Bay. On July 6, 1973, 11-year-old Linda OKeefe disappeared while walking home from summer school in the southern California beachside town of Corona del Mar. Blashaw did not explain what this sickness was but elaborated that the inmate did not have COVID-19 symptoms. James Alan Neal, 73, was transferred to a local hospital May 25 for treatment of an illness and died there at about 5:15 a.m. Wednesday, according to Orange County sheriff's officials. Last year, Spitzer said authorities used DNA thought to have been left by the killer and tracked down Neal using a public genealogy database. So, if youre curious to know more about James and what happened to him after his arrest, weve got you covered. "We want as many sets of eyes on that sketch as possible, so somebody can recognize the face of a killer so we can get justice.". The key moment arrived with the February 19, 2019 arrest of Neal in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Shes really good at sewing, and we dont have a lot of money for fancy store outfits anyhow. #LindasStory pic.twitter.com/9sucqJsnGg, Newport Beach Police (@NewportBeachPD) July 6, 2018. Linda O'Keefe fue asesinada en 1973 mientras caminaba a casa desde la escuela. O'Keefe's parents have since died, Spitzer said, but her sisters have been notified about the arrest. Armed with DNA and a family tree, police arrested a Colorado man in connection to the 1973 slaying of a Southern California girl, authorities said Wednesday. The lead bringing officials to Neal came after these sketches were released, authorities said Wednesday. Her body was found the next day in a nature preserve. Her strangled body was found the next day. Neal was arrested Tuesday "without incident" in Colorado Springs, Newport Beach Police Chief Jon Lewis said at a news conference Wednesday. First tweet from Newport Beach Police Department. The authorities confirmed that the 73-year-old showed no symptoms of COVID-19 and that his death was not considered suspicious. According to police, O'Keefe normally rode her bike to summer school. It was not clear from records if he was convicted for those offenses. for me personally. Linda Ann O'Keefe was killed in July 1973 -- and decades went by without leads. Generations of investigators worked on her case, said Lewis. So, if youre curious to know more about James and what happened to him after his arrest, weve got you covered. Neal was arrested last year and charged with the sex assault and murder of 11-year-old Linda Ann OKeefe, who was abducted while walking home from school in the summer of 1973. The next day she was found strangled, her. Have a tip or story idea? O'Keefe's parents have since died, but police said they keep her two surviving sisters updated on the investigation. And at the time of his arrest Neal had no income, savings or property except for a car that had been stolen in Springfield, Illinois, McMillan said. Watch: Aurora Dazzles Ladakh Skies As Geomagnetic Storm Hits Earth, This website follows the DNPA Code of Ethics. Turn on desktop notifications for breaking stories about interest? McMillan went on to say that Neals father, who designed drugstores, and his mother, who was a bookkeeper, were described as extremely neurotic people who were both physically and psychologically cruel to their children. They are reported to be detached emotionally and narcissistic, he added. On the day Linda Ann O'Keefe died, it was a cooler-than-normal July morning in Newport . Colorado man charged in 1973 Orange County cold case dies awaiting trial. Neal, who was living at the YMCA in Santa Ana at the time, surrendered to police four days later and ratted out the other burglars. Through the tireless efforts of generations of our investigators, we hope we have been able to bring a measure of closure to Lindas family, friends and loved ones., However, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said Neals death robvs the OKeefe family of the justice they so deserve and deprives the law enforcement officers of the satisfaction that they finally got their culprit., Get in touch with our news team by emailing us email@example.com, For more stories like this,check our news page, Get your need-to-know An undated photo of murder victim Linda O'Keefe and her family. He then moved to Florida, and then, a criminal incident prompted him to change his name to James Alan Neal. All rights reserved. . Her body was found the next day -- but decades went by without an arrest. His next court appearance is set for June 14. There is no record of Neal ever having been incarcerated in a California prison, according to state officials. It is not clear if Neal, 72, will waive extradition, Spitzer said. "They haven't forgotten about her and we haven't, either.". Finally, in September 1965, he was arrested for yet another burglary but the charge was reduced to petty theft and ultimately dismissed. James Neal, 72, was arrested in Colorado Springs, Colo., and charged with murder with special circumstances in the death of Linda O'Keefe, who was found strangled in 1973, a case that has long shaken the seaside community of Newport Beach, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said. He is being held in Colorado, and if he waives extradition, could be moved to California before the end of the week, officials said. Lindas story deeply touched the hearts of our community, said Newport Beach Police Chief Jon Lewis. O'Keefe vanished in July of 1973 while walking home from summer school. After following and obtaining a DNA sample from Neal himself, police were confident enough to make an arrest, he added. He was on parole from Colorado's prison system when Linda Ann O'Keefe was killed. He feels he has always been picked on and never given a chance to better himself or be equal to others, Neal wrote in the report. He has not been able to relate well with other students, family members or inmates. WATCH LIVE: Retrial for Florida man Eric Robinson accused of brutal love triangle murder, Law&Crime Looks Ahead to 10 Remarkable Criminal Trials Scheduled for the First Half of 2023, 9 Shocking Times Defendants Testified at Trial, 10 Most Memorable Law&Crime Network Trials, Man busted after $3M worth of drugs mysteriously showed up to restaurant, Police officer who did not show up for work found shot to death in his house along with his newlywed wife, Justice for Katelyn. A day later, her body was found in a ditch, and she had been sexually assaulted. Records show that from 1963 to 1966, Neal was employed as cook, furniture mover, iron worker, factory worker, and a floral deliveryman but didnt hold a job longer than five months. Prosecutors are considering seeking the death penalty against Neal. James Alan Neal, the 73-year-old charged in the 1973 cold case murder of 11-year-oldLinda OKeefe, died on Wednesday at about 5:15 a.m. Thats according to Orange County Sheriffs Department spokesperson Jaimee Blashaw in an NBC Los Angeles report. Composite sketch of the driver. Neal has been charged with one count of murder with the special circumstances of kidnapping and committing lewd and lascivious acts upon a child younger than 14, Spitzer said. In July 1973, 11-year-old Linda Ann O'Keefe was murdered. Linda O'Keefe. Newport Beach police launched a new PR campaign in 2018 using Tweets written in Lindas voice. Neal was pronounced dead at. This photo shows a poster of James Neal during a news conference at the Orange County District Attorney's office in Santa Ana, Calif., Feb. 20, 2019. But he praised Newport Beach police for persisting through the decades. Spitzer lauded noted DNA investigator CeCe Moore for helping police develop a "pointer" toward Neal. Investigators would later learn that the girl had last been seen at an intersection, talking to a stranger in a turquoise van. latest news, feel-good stories, analysis and more, Doomsday mum unfazed by photos of daughters dismembered body shown to court, Five people including boy, 8, killed in execution-style shootings in Texas, Drunk woman fatally runs over man on a first date, Moment bear falls from tree onto tarp held by firefighters, Do not sell or share my personal information. As part of an effort to renew interest in the case, the Newport Beach Police Department used their Twitter account to recount the story of Lindas life, mysterious disappearance and death. Neal moved to Southern California from Chicago before the murder and relocated to Florida after the girl's slaying, authorities said. James Neal of Monument, Colorado also pleaded not guilty in an Orange County courtroom Friday to lewd and lascivious acts on two girls under the age of 14. Although Linda died almost half a century ago, her family, the community and members of law enforcement never stopped thinking of her or hoping her killer would be brought to justice, Spitzer said. It was our intention to see James Alan Neal stand trial and answer for the murder of Linda Ann OKeefe. Through the tireless efforts of generations of our investigators, we hope we have been able to bring a measure of closure to Lindas family, friends, and loved ones., Orange County District AttorneyTodd Spitzerput Neals death in more bitter terms, saying the new development robbed the OKeefe family of the justice they so deserve and deprives the law enforcement officers of the satisfaction that they finally got their culprit.. ", Borgeson said, if she gets a chance to speak to Neal, she would "let him know that I've been praying for him.". She was later found strangled to death and dumped in a ditch in Newport Beachs Back Bay. James Neal, who was charged with sexually assaulting and killing Linda O'Keefe, died on Wednesday (Picture: AP) An man arrested for a series of cold case sex crimes against children died. We will make sure that the defendant is fairly and justly held accountable in a court of law.". Photo Source. The genealogical hit came in January, officials said. "As you can imagine, this was difficult news to receive," Lewis said. On the day Linda disappeared, she was last seen talking to a stranger in a van, Lewis said. James Alan Neal, the 73-year-old charged in the 1973 cold case murder of 11-year-old Linda O'Keefe, died on Wednesday at about 5:15 a.m. That's according to Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesperson Jaimee Blashaw in an NBC Los Angeles report. She loved animals, playing the piano, and painting. She had been strangled and sexually assaulted. James Alan Neal was arrested February 19, 2019, in connection to her death, prosecutors announced at a press conference.. Neal is charged with murder, kidnapping during the commission of murder and lewd and lascivious acts upon a child under 14 in the beachside town of Corona del Mar, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said. James Neal (left) and Linda O'Keefe (right) (credit: CBS). Linda O'Keefe. After the burglary sentencing, James moved to Denver, Colorado, where he was accused of stealing from the gas station he worked at. He pleaded not guilty to the murder and to allegations of lewd and lascivious acts on two girls under age 14 between 1995-2004. After Lindas death, Neal moved to Florida, where he changed his name to James Alan George Leyton, Spitzer said. James Neal had been living in California at the time of the girl's murder but had since moved to Colorado. He was apprehended in February after DNA analysis identified him as a suspect in OKeefes slaying. James Neal, 72, was arrested in Colorado Springs on Tuesday and charged with murder with special circumstances, Spitzer said. "He has a connection to Southern California.". Teacher 52 Years Later, Hiding in Plain Sight: DNA Allegedly Links Calif. Karate Instructor to 1981 Rapes, Murders of 2 Women, 2 Women Were Found Slain, Sexually Assaulted Within Months of Each Other in 1983: How DNA Led to Arrest, Teen Was Killed with Ax After Meeting Man on Phone Chat Line in 1998. They dont understand me or why I am the way I am. Authorities suspect that Neal, while on parole in the Colorado case, snatched OKeefe, who lived in Corona del Mar, from the street on July 6, 1973, as she walked home from summer school. 11-year-old Linda OKeefe was kidnapped on her way back from home in July 1973. Her parents checked with friends and searched the neighborhood and the path she took home to no avail, Lewis said. Lindas story deeply touched the hearts of our community. Investigators said he used to live in Southern California in the 1970s and was known as James Albert Layton Jr at the time, although he later moved to Florida and changed his name. 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"I'm astonished at what they were able to accomplish," Borgeson, 64, said. Now a Suspect Has Been Arrested, JonBent Ramsey's Father Is Optimistic DNA Advances Will Catch Daughter's Killer, Slams Boulder Police, DNA Taken from Truck's Door Handle in Washington Leads to Arrest 34 Years After Wisconsin Mom's Killing, Pa. "I'll get to be with them again," she added. DNA recovered from O'Keefe shortly after her death was put into the Combined DNA Index System the law enforcement database known as CODIS but there was no hit, said Spitzer. Jeffrey Malecki, 55, who lived next door to Neal for five years, said Friday his neighbor mentioned having served time in jail but never elaborated. Trouble followed James everywhere, and he was sentenced to 3-10 years for fraud in Colorado. Through the tireless efforts of generations of our investigators, we hope we have been able to bring a measure of closure to Lindas family, friends, and loved ones.. We never gave up.. ', " As 'Linda' noted in the tweets in July, her case would generate numerous theories and a sketch of a 'person of interest' but ultimately grow cold.". As a result of surveillance and other traditional detective techniques, they were able to get additional DNA which resulted in the corroboration of the DNA from the victims body, to the DNA sample that the suspect left during a particular location during surveillance activities, the Orange County district attorney said after Neals arrest in February 2019. These were in relation to him committing lewd acts to a child in Riverside County, California, between July 1995 and July 2000 and then to another child between March 2002 and March 2004. Track Latest News and Karnataka Elections 2023 Coverage Live on NDTV.com and get news updates from India and around the world. Feb. 20, 2019. Please see the press release for more information. The 72-year-old Neal was extradited to California from Colorado after he was charged with murder in the death of 11-year-old Linda O'Keefe in the seaside community of Newport Beach. "My office will never forget about cold cases," Spitzer said in a statement. David K. Li is a senior breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital. However, the case remained unsolved for about 46 years before the investigators found the killer. Lindas story deeply touched the hearts of our community. Detectives from Newport Beach arrested Neal at 6:29 a.m. in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Newport Beach Police Chief Jon Lewis said at the press conference. "Generations of investigators worked on her case. A true-crime retelling of Linda O'Keefe's 1973 abduction & killing led police to James Alan Neal, ID'd through DNA as the primary suspect. . The DNA researcher Moore has been on the forefront of linking cold cases to suspects through genetic material voluntarily offered by Americans doing ancestry research. Parabon used the DNA from the crime scene to predict the suspect's eye color, hair color and skin color. Man who served 15 years for murder his brother confessed to awarded $7,500,000, Woman 'sold 20 boxes of fetuses, hearts, genitalia and brains on Facebook', One killed after plane crashes into Los Angeles neighborhood. Spitzer also refused to confirm whether Neal had family members or children, saying the matter was under investigation. O'Keefe then called her mother from the school office, and her mother told her she was busy sewing and that she should walk home, police said. He was arrested in Colorado Springs on Feb. 19. "After all this time, finding out there is a face and a namejust brings additional closure.". Police also urged the public to share details about O'Keefe's disappearance on social media with the hashtag #Lindastory. She doesn't know that I'm missing. "That sample remained in the system for a long period of time," Spitzer said. OKeefes 1973 rape and murder went unsolved for decades. (Courtesy of Newport Beach Police Department) Photo Source. When O'Keefe didn't return home right away, there was little concern at first. Linda never made it home that afternoon., For 45 years, the Newport Beach Police Department continued to search for Lindas killer," Lewis said. The detectives dogged this case. He was being held at the Theo Lacy maximum-security jail in Orange. Scott Schwebke is an investigative reporter for the Orange County Register and the Southern California News Group. Neal was taken to a hospital on May 25 for an illness. It wasnt long before Neal was in trouble again. Those alleged crimes happened between 1995 and 2004 in Riverside County east of Los Angeles. Her death would go unsolved for more than four decades. Spitzer said a DNA sample was recovered from O'Keefe after her body was found and uploaded to a database, where it never matched others. In July, on the 45th anniversary of O'Keefe's death, the Newport Beach Police Department "live-tweeted" Linda's story - in her voice, from the perspective of her last day - in the hope of raising awareness about her cold case and shaking forth any new clues about her killer. Her body was found strangled in a ditch the next day. After a move to California in 1956, James started getting into trouble. The 11-year-old was taken while she walked back from school in California, with witnesses reporting Linda talking to a white male in a van. "I never really thought that they would actually ever find the individual responsible," Cindy Borgeson, a sister of Linda OKeefe, told ABC News. "We have never forgotten Linda," Newport Beach Police Chief Jon Lewis said at the news conference. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser. "It is bittersweet to hear that, yes, this case has been resolved. SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) A Colorado man has pleaded not guilty to murder in the 1973 death of an 11-year-old California girl. The brown-haired, blue-eyed 11-year-old got a ride to summer school - about half a mile away - but had to walk home in the afternoon. Or to keep it anonymous, click here. That DNA "hit" came in January, Spitzer said. Neals education was terminated early and his work history was spotty, McMillan reported. More than 45. DNA recovered from O'Keefe shortly after her death was put into the Combined DNA Index System -- the law enforcement database known as CODIS -- but there was no hit, Spitzer said. James Neal (left) and Linda O'Keefe (right) (credit: CBS) The 72-year-old Neal was extradited to California from Colorado after he was charged with murder in the death of 11-year-old Linda O'Keefe . James Alan Neal, 72, was picked up in Colorado on Tuesday and charged with the murder of 11-year-old Linda O'Keefe in 1973. Two years later, he began burglarizing homes for fun, according to McMillan. Photo Source. James Alan Neal, 72, was arrested in Colorado Tuesday for allegedly killing Linda O'Keefe, 11, and leaving her body in a ditch. O'Keefe was last seen alive on July 6, 1973, as she walked home from summer school, the Newport Beach Police Department said. The arrest seemed to signal an end to an infamous cold case that had both haunted and motivated "generations of investigators" at the Newport Beach Police Department, Lewis said. The case stumped investigators for more than four decades before DNA evidence from the genealogical website FamilyTreeDNA tied Neal to the case. 24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events. James Alan Neal, 73, was an inmate at the maximum-security Theo Lacy jail in Orange for the 1973 sexual assault and strangling death of Linda O'Keefe, 11. That night, family members, volunteers and police spread out to search for her. Three weeks later, he pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary, was sentenced to 40 days in jail with credit for time served and placed on probation against McMillans recommendation that he should instead be sent to Vacaville Prison in Northern California. Cookies collect information about your preferences and your device and are used to make the site work as you expect it to, to understand how you interact with the site, and to show advertisements that are targeted to your interests.