COLORADO SPRINGS – Authorities in the Los Angeles area have charged a Monument man with the 1973 murder of an 11-year-old girl. James Alan Neal, age 72, who moved to Monument three years ago, is now in the El Paso County Jail.
Linda Ann O’Keefe was last seen talking to someone in a van as she walked home from summer school on July 6, 1973 in Corona del Mar, California. She never made it home. Linda was kidnapped with the intent of being sexually assaulted before she was strangled to death.
Prosecutors in California say DNA samples were collected at the time of the murder and entered into national systems for cross reference. It wasn’t until recently that investigators tracked down Neal as a suspect based on information from a DNA sample sent in as part of a genealogical tracking effort.
Under questioning from local media, the prosecutor clarified that ‘pointer data’ obtained by law enforcement helped them connect a suspect to the case. He stated Neal was under surveillance recently in Colorado where law enforcement was able to collect an actual sample of his DNA.
Neal was arrested on Tuesday with the cooperation of the Colorado Springs Police and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
Background information on Neal shows he moved around California many times since 1993 before moving to Monument in 2016. Prosecutors pointed out he changed his name years ago from James Alan George Leighton to James Alan Neal.
Details on any prior criminal history has not been released. News5 is working to gather more information from court officials.
While being cautious in his statements, the prosecutor said suspects or offenders in these types of cases are more likely to have committed other acts, but at this time they have no other information on other crimes connected to Neal.
The prosecution has not made a decision yet on whether to seek the death penalty in this case. Neal is expected to be in court Thursday, February 21st in El Paso County. Authorities must go through the process to extradite Neal to California to face charges.
News5’s Jessica Barreto will be in the courtroom, sharing updates on this case.
The Newport Police Department borrowed a technique from a Canadian law enforcement agency as they took to Twitter in an effort to gather more information on the case. They used conversations in the voice of the victim to get attention.