COLORADO SPRINGS – The Monument man accused of murdering an 11-year-old girl in 1973 has entered a not guilty plea in California.
James Alan Neal was extradited earlier this year from El Paso County following the announcement of his arrest in the case. He’s due back in court in June.
Neal is suspected of killing 11-year-old Linda Ann O’Keefe in 1973. O’Keefe was last seen talking to someone in a van in Corona del Mar, Calif. on July 6, 1973. She was kidnapped and strangled to death.
Colorado Springs police officers and El Paso County deputies arrested Neal in connection to her murder on Feb. 19.
Prosecutors in California used DNA samples that were collected at the time of her murder. Those samples were then compared to samples through a genealogical tracking effort, which led authorities to him. The prosecutor in the case said law enforcement surveilled Neal and eventually collected a sample of his DNA in Colorado.
Neal moved around California numerous times since 1993, and he moved to Monument three years ago. They said he also changed his name years ago from James Alan George Leighton to James Alan Neal.
A California prosecutor said suspects 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.
Should California authorities not arrange for his transportation back to the golden state, he has a hearing scheduled in El Paso County court on March 14 at 9 a.m.
If you have information about Neal, you’re encouraged to contact the Orange County District Attorney’s Office at (714) 834-3600.