After 45 years, the murder of a young girl is solved

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NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – It had been 45 years since the day 11-year-old Linda O’Keefe left school bound for home. Sadly, she never made it.

She was found strangled, her body tossed in a ditch, the next day.

45 years
Linda O’Keefe

Now, police investigators in Newport Beach have announced what they’ve long been waiting for: the arrest of Linda’s suspected killer. A press conference is planned for later today, but as of now they have officially identified the accused murderer, reported Fox News.

Witnesses at the time reported seeing the little girl speak to a man who appeared to be in his 20’s or 30’s and was in a turquoise van.

Last year, the Newport Beach Police Department obtained a lead in the case that had frustrated them for so long. They used DNA evidence that the killer left on Linda’s dress to figure out what he might look like decades later. That evidence allowed officials to hone in on suspects.

45 years
(Newport Beach Police Department)

Authorities put a sketch together of the suspect, but also decided to bring O’Keefe “back to life,” to put a face and voice to what otherwise could be like a ghost to many people.

Moreover, officials turned to social media, and tweeted as Linda: “Now, 45 years later, I have a voice again. And I have something important to say. There’s a new lead in my case: a face. A face that comes from DNA that the killer left behind. It’s technology that didn’t exist back in 1973, but it might change everything today.”

Furthermore, police also recreated Linda’s kidnapping and murder on social media.

“The tweets extend the period of time that Linda’s story can be out there for people to relate to,” Newport Beach police spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella said last year. “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.”

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer’s office extended thanks Wednesday to the Newport Beach Police Department, Orange County Crime Lab, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Colorado Springs Police Department and El Paso County Sheriff’s Department for their assistance in the investigation.

“As the Orange County District Attorney, I am committed to protecting the community,” the statement said. “My office will never forget about cold cases. Our hearts go out to the victim and the victim’s family in this case, having to endure decades without answers. We will make sure that the defendant is fairly and justly held accountable in a court of law.”

Update:

The suspect in this case started a search to find his own ancestry at FamilyTreeDNA.com.

And it got him arrested.

James Alan Neal, 72, was arrested at 6:39 a.m. in Colorado Springs on Feb. 19. He did not put up a fight. He is charged with murder, kidnapping and a lewd act with a child. He faces life without the possibility of parole. Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said he is also considering the death penalty. Although, the most severe punishment may prove to be a difficult pursuit since the crime was committed in 1973, not long after death was ruled unconstitutional in California.

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