An arrest has finally been made in the cold case murder of an 11-year-old who was strangled to death in 1973.
Linda O'Keefe was walking home from summer school in California on July 6 that year when she went missing. Her body was found the following morning in a nearby nature preserve.
Police never gave up on catching her killer, eventually turning to Twitter as an innovative way of keeping the case alive. Last July, the 45th anniversary of her death, the Newport Beach Police Department took to social media to narrate her final hours in her own voice.
“Hi. I’m Linda O’Keefe (or Linda ANN O’Keefe, if I’m in trouble with my mom),” began the series of tweets, which all ended with the hashtag #LindasStory. “Forty-five years ago … I disappeared from Newport Beach. I was murdered and my body was found in the Back Bay."
The tweets included specific details about the case, as well as photos of evidence, in the hopes that someone's memory might be jogged.
One heartbreaking post recalled how a witness heard Linda screaming out. "A lady in the bluffs above Back Bay hears a female voice outside, screaming '
According to the Orange County District Attorney's Office, James Alan Neal, 72, has been charged with murder and could potentially face the death penalty. He has not yet entered a plea.
"My office will never forget about cold cases," Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said Tuesday in a statement. "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.”