Sept. 29, 2021

Linda Ann O'Keefe

Linda Ann O'Keefe

     

Linda

Linda with Mom and little sister Diana at Cindy's High School graduation

     

Wanted posters, 1973 and 2018

     

POS Layton/Neal

 

Sources:

Linda Anne O'Keefe (1962-1973) - Find A Grave Memorial

08 Jul 1973, 1 - The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com

10 Jul 1973, 2 - Press-Telegram at Newspapers.com

05 Aug 1973, 1 - Press-Telegram at Newspapers.com

01 Sep 1973, 8 - The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com

09 Jul 2018, B2 - The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com

21 Feb 2019, A8 - Visalia Times-Delta at Newspapers.com

When Justice is Elusive: The Murder of Linda Ann O’Keefe | by Kym L Pasqualini | Medium

#LindasStory / Twitter

A DNA match brings relief to Linda O'Keefe's sister, four decades after girl's slaying - Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)

Police podcasts are solving murders now | British GQ (gq-magazine.co.uk) 

Man Accused of Killing 11-Year-Old Linda O’Keefe in Newport Beach Dies in Custody – NBC Los Angeles

1973 cold case: How DNA from an ancestry site helped police arrest James Neal | 9news.com

James Neal, Linda O’Keefe Suspect: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know | Heavy.com

Linda Ann O'Keefe cold case: Before James Neal's arrest, he had a different name and a criminal history | 9news.com

Unsolved: 15 Mar 1990, Page 78 - The San Bernardino County Sun at Newspapers.com

 

Today we will be in Newport Beach California. Linda was abducted from Corona Del Mar, a neighborhood in Newport Beach, and eventually found in another part of the city. I figured I’ll give you the rundown on Newport. Newport Beach is in Orange county, on the coast of southern California, which is sandwiched between LA county to the north and San Diego county to the south. Newport covers 53 square miles, and today has a population of 85k people. Back in the 70s, where our story takes place, Newport Beach had 53k residents. Thriller and suspense novelist Dean Koontz lives here, in Newport Beach specifically, and many of his books are set here too. Aside from the beautiful beaches that the county boasts, it is also home to Disneyland, located in Anaheim, another city in Orange. 

Linda Ann O’Keefe was the middle of three girls born to Richard and Barbara O’Keefe on May 24, 1962. Her sister Cindy, was seven years her senior, and her other sister Diana was only 2 years her junior. Linda was a bright, loving, creative girl. She was interested in all things creative. Linda loved playing the piano, was a gifted painter, and other types of crafts. Linda was also well-liked, even though she was pretty shy when meeting new people. She was a member of her local girl scout troop and often spent time at their local youth center. According to mom, she was also very eager to please. Linda made sure to keep her bedroom clean regularly, and each time she was done, she had Mom come in to check on it, to be sure it was done just right.

She also loved going to the beach. She loved playing in the waves and laying out in the sun. And the beach was really close to the family home - only a few blocks away. So this year, mom and dad decided to start giving her some independence, and they let her by herself down to the shore a few times.

She was also described as a sensitive girl. A few months before she was abducted, one of the family's cats had passed away, and she was especially devastated by the loss.

Her older Sister Cindy, tells us, ““I remember she was an old soul. When we’d go camping she was like the frog whisperer. We’d be trying to chase frogs and get them but she would walk up very gently and pick them up, like they just knew she was a safe person to with.”

It will be on Friday, July 6, 1973 that Linda will be taken away. On the 45th anniversary of of Linda’s murder in 2018, the Newport Beach police department tweeted throughout the day about the events that took place that Friday and Saturday so many years earlier. So this is the timeline we get:

Linda was enrolled in summer school that summer, and normally, she would ride her bike to and from school, but on this day, her piano teacher offered to pick her up, and she accepted. 

The school day started just fine, and Linda actually had four classes that day. Once the first class gets out, she has a little break, then moves on to the second class. By now, she’s getting a little hungry, and decides to walk over to a nearby market to get a snack between 2nd and 3rd period. The last class of the day goes off without a hitch, and all Linda is thinking out is getting home and having some weekend fun. She had hoped to hang out with a friend all weekend, but her parents had shot them down. You see, her friend Cathy’s parents have a boat and they were going to take it out for the weekend this weekend. They were looking to leave Cathy behind, and the girls were hoping Cathy could sleep over Linda’s house tonight, Friday night. But Linda’s parents had nixed the idea. So now Linda isn’t sure what she’s going to do. And the bell is ringing and school is out, and Linda doesn’t have a plan to get home. She didn’t talk about it with her mom that morning and she doesn't have her bike, because she was driven to school by the piano teacher.  

So what do you do when school is out and you don’t want to walk and you know mom or dad are at home? You call home of course. So Linda goes to the main office and asks the secretary if she can call home to get a ride, but the secretary tells her, “maybe your mom is already on her way, give it a few minutes to see if she shows up…. Go wait outside for her.”

Sound familiar right? For those of us who grew up in the 70s 80s 90s, all before cell phones, how many times did we ask the secretary to use the phone after school? I actually remember kids lining up outside the main office in my elementary school.  “Can I go Andrea’s for a while?” “I don’t want to walk in the rain, can you come get me?” “They gave us our art projects … I can't carry this volcano by myself all the way home...pleeease Mom!” Looking back, I should have made that lady more than  a few Christmas cards. 

Now, Linda knows her mom isn’t coming, because they didn’t make that plan when Linda left the house 4 hours ago. But the secretary said no, and we don’t talk back to authority figures, so she goes outside. Linda decides to kill time by going back to Richard’s Market to hang out for a little bit before she goes back into the main office, this was where she picked up a pack of gum earlier. She passes a few classmates on the sidewalk as they are leaving the store, and one of them is her friend Barbara. They exchange hello’s and after they pass Linda, Barbara looks back and sees a turquoise van driving alongside Linda, but she can’t tell if Linda is talking to anyone in the van.

Linda makes it back to school, and is allowed to call home this time. But Mom and Cindy are working on a sewing project together, and Mom doesn’t want to get pulled away from it, so she tells Linda she’s old enough… she can just walk home. This is not the answer she wanted, and Linda gets upset, and even starts crying on the phone right there in the main office. Which, I feel for her. I lived a mile from my elementary school growing up, we didn’t get the bus in my neighborhood and I had to walk home everyday. And it was the worst part of my day. I would sometimes do the same thing, just lollygag out front because I didn’t want to walk home. Walking home is so boring when you don’t have friends to walk with. So I totally get it, honey. But in 2021 my Mom Brain is like, “It’s a mile. You’ll be home in 20min. You’d be home by now if you just started walking as soon as the bell rang. Get over it.”

Tragically though, we don’t know if Linda would be here today if she had just started walking home right after school…. We don't know how long that turquoise van was hanging around Lincoln Elementary school and we don’t know when it’s driver spotted Linda for the first time. 

But let’s get back. Now she’s upset, sniffling and pouting on the front curb of the school building because she’s procrastinating. And then finally, she starts walking. Linda will make it three blocks from school before the man in the turquoise van pulls up to her again. She’s now on the corner of Inlet Drive and Marguerite Avenue, and a young lady named Jannine and her mom are driving by and see a girl matching Linda’s description talking to the driver of the van. The passenger door is open, the man is in the driver seat, and Linda is standing there on the sidewalk talking to him. When they pass, Jannine’s mom gets this gut feeling that she doesn’t like and decides to turn the corner, and wait for the van to pass by, telling Jannine to take down the plate number as it passes. But when the van drives away, it continues straight on Marguerite and they don’t get the plate number after all. And they can’t be sure if there was anyone in the passenger seat. All of this is discovered later that night when Jannine talks to police once the search for Linda begins. 

All Mom and Cindy know that afternoon is that Linda was walking home, and they go back to their sewing project. A few hours pass by, and they start wondering out loud when Linda is. Remember Linda is 11yo, and puberty is starting to rear its ugly head. Lately, if she got upset at Mom or Dad she’d do little things to exert her will. One of these little things was not coming home right away when she was told to. But it's been three hours now, and the family is starting to think, they figure if anything, she’s hungry for lunch. And if Linda had met up with a friend, we should have heard from her by now,” Ideally, she would be home by now.

So they start calling around the neighborhood to Linda's friends. But no one saw her after they all left school. So when Dad Richard gets home from work later on, he asks where his daughter is. Barbara tells him the story about Linda’s temper tantrum, and that she was supposed to be home by now but she’s not. So Richard and Cindy, who is 18 at this time, decide to each take a family car and scope out the neighborhood to find her. Right now, they’re more of the mindset that Linda is still pissed about having to walk home from school, and not that she was taken involuntarily. They check the youth center, where her girl scouts meetings usually are, and any other places Linda might like to hang out in the general vicinity of their home. But when Richand and Cindy come home without her, Mom and Dad decide it’s time to call the police.

911 gets the call at around 6:30pm and just as they should, they begin searching. Any officer that is not already occupied with some other call or disturbance is now being directed to search for missing Linda Ann O’Keefe. She is 4’ tall, 85lbs, has long brown hair, and blue eyes. She’s wearing a white dress with blue flowers on it, and a green ski jacket over it. She’s got a red and blue Americana style messenger book bag with her. Dad and Cindy hit the streets again in the family cars, and Mom stays home with little sister to continue making phone calls. Back in the 1970s, the area had a lot more empty land than it does now, so they are going door to door by Linda’s house, but they’re also checking local fields… woods.. Marshes… They’re in their patrol cars, in the woods on horseback, helicopters are flying overhead… they’re in boats out on the water…  But time is passing and no one is finding Lind

There’s a short lived theory that maybe Linda is a stowaway on her friend's family’s boat. Maybe Cathy went on the trip with her parents after all, and maybe Linda was upset at her parents enough to get on the boat without telling them, to get back at mom for not getting her from school and for not letting Cathy sleep over. So police check out the marina, find the boat slip and interview boaters nearby. They say, yeah, the parents were there, and they did pull out from the bay a few hours ago, but there weren’t any kids with them. There were just six adults. So this may be a dead end, but Barbara is hoping the boaters are wrong, and Linda is safe and sound with Cathy’s family, albeit, in a heap load of shit when she gets home. And they need to see this theory to the end, so police call over to Catalina Harbor, where the boat was expected to show up tonight, and explain the situation. They tell the marina attendants to let them know when they show up, because they need to know if Linda is with them. 

Barbara tells police that her daughter is a sweet, shy girl who would never have voluntarily stayed away from home for anything like this length of time.

Back at home, Jannine shows up at the O’Keefe home after hearing about a little girl going missing and tells police what she and her mother saw. So now police of course, police are going to be looking out for this blue green van. The driver was a man, 20s-30s, white. But so were 1000s of residents of Corona Del Mar at the time, so the van is going to be their best bet. At this point though, it's getting late, and there’s only so much that they can do with the little information they have. And Mom and Dad get no sleep that night, of course. The girls go to bed, Diana is still pretty young, not even 10yo, and likely doesn't understand the gravity of the situation. And Cindy is expected at her job at the dry cleaners in the morning, and while she is a bit worried, she’s not nearly as panicked as Mom and Dad are. 

The next morning, police and search and rescue team are getting ready to change out shifts. The searchers who worked all night are going home and a new crew are coming in to take over the search. And over in the O’Keefe’s neighborhood, Ron Yeo is packing up his 4yo son to meet up with some friends on their bikes near Back Bay in Newport Beach. The men are planning a nature outing and are looking for a good spot to observe frogs in their natural habitat when the nature hike takes place. And Ron is the man that discovers Linda’s body, just 3 miles from her home. Just before 10am, Ron and his friends had split up from each other, each going in a different direction, scouring the marsh for frogs and other interesting things, when Ron noticed something not brown or green among the leaves and fallen trees.  He looks closer and realizes he is looking at a hand, and then an arm, and then he realizes he’s looking at the whole body of a little girl. First, he calls out to her, hoping maybe she’ll wake up. But she doesn’t. So he starts yelling for his buddies, and they rush over from wherever they were, and see what Ron is seeing. Right away, they realize this must be the little girl that had gone missing last night, and they get on their bikes to go get the police. Soon enough they come up on a police car - with an officer who is out looking for Linda - and tell him what they found. And with that, Linda O’Keefe was no longer missing.

Linda was found fully clothed, still wearing her coat, with her red and blue messenger bag nearby. She had been strangled, and even though the police won’t release this information to the public for 15 years, she had been sexually assaulted. The O’Keefe’s are devastated, who wouldn’t be? And police are now looking for a killer, no longer searching for a little girl.

Like we said before, we’ve got this van, and then we’ve got a “young white guy” that we are looking for. But Jannine and her mother give a pretty detailed description of the driver of that van, so the police do come up with an interesting profile sketch of the POS that lured Linda into that van. He’s relatively thin, he’s got short brown curly hair, a long face, droopy eyes, and he’s tanned skinned. He’s white, but he is tan. And we have a few more details about the van: It's a late 60s or early 70s model, but the make is unknown. The blue is darker than “a Soare’s Service Vehicle,” which doesn’t help us, in 2021, but we’re sure that made sense in 1973 in California. For the body, it has two doors in the back that open light banquet doors, the license plate is on the left side door, and there are no windows on the sides of the van, aside from the front doors - shocker.

Police are going at this investigation with full force. The area where Linda’s body was discovered was scoured for any additional evidence, all possible interviews are made, local sex offenders were looked into, LE didn’t everything their 1970s protocol taught them - or rather allowed them - to do. A lady that lived within earshot of where Linda’s body was found told police that she had heard something strange the night before. Sometime before midnight, she heard what sounded like a girls voice, and it was screaming, “Stop!! You’re hurting me!!”  She told police she heard it, wasn’t sure if she heard right, stood still and perked her ears up, and then didn’t hear anything else. So she went about her business. And this is exactly what we learned in Christine Jessop’s case. Can we all just make a solemn vow today to not let this happen in our lives? Let’s all hold up our right hands. Repeat after me:  “I, insert your name here, do solemnly swear, that if I ever hear through my kitchen window, what sounds like a person - especially a person with a childlike voice - screaming, “Stop! You’re hurting me!” I will call the police.”  We good? Good.

And within two days - yes two days folks - police pick up a suspect. He’s young, just graduated from the high school nearby, lives in the same neighborhood as the O’Keefe’s, and he lives alone. Police grill him for seven hours, he doesn’t give anything up, and within a few days, he is ruled out. The department realizes pretty quickly they really don’t have any evidence against him, and they are barking up the wrong tree.

Sadly, as it went for too too many murders in the 20th century, Linda’s murder case some went cold. The Newport Beach PD actively worked it for as long as they could, but even if it was “open,” they weren’t getting any kind of new information that could bring them closer to a suspect…. So it was “open” but it was “cold.” 

Keep in mind, the Newport Beach police do have semen evidence on the POS that ripped this little girl from her family and community, but it’s 1973 and clearly they don’t know what to do with it. We are happy though, they knew enough, like so many of the PDs we talk about in TC, they knew enough to keep it around. Preserve the clothes or slides of bodily fluids found during the autopsy. Put them in a box, on a shelf, in a fridge, lock ‘em up. One day you might be able to do something with them. So that’s what they did here. 

In the meantime, over the next year, and through to the end of 1974, the Press-Telegram newspaper out of Long Beach California, included Linda’s case in it’s weekly summary of requests for Secret Witnesses. There is a $2k reward for information leading to conviction for her case, which is about $12k today. Unfortunately, this did not lead to any promising tips or leads for the Newport Beach PD, but the idea is something pretty cool and I want to share it with you. The weekly page is pretty much in the vein of Crime Stoppers - please submit a tip, and if your tip helps catch the criminal, you’ll get a monetary reward. But the Secret Witnesses campaign is very clear: “Do not tell us your name.” In fact, there are instructions on how to submit your tip. “DO NOT SIGN YOUR NAME. Instead, select a code name for yourself, any name as long as it is not your own, and place it in a code number at the bottom of your letter. The code number should combine three letters and three numbers in any combination. Tear off and keep a corner of the last page code name and number on it then mail your letter to secret Witness at this address.” I guess the reasoning is, once they get the tip, and if police find it credible and are looking to get in touch with you, and/or the paper is ready to give you your reward, it is only then that you should come forward, and you prove you are the person that submitted the tip by presenting the torn corner of the page from the letter you sent in. 

Decades go by and it seems like Linda’s case has been forgotten.  Mom died in 2005, and then Dad died in 2008. Sadly, they would never be able to see justice for their daughter. 

I’m sure by now police are going with the theory that the man who abducted, raped and murdered Linda must have been a stranger. Sure she was shy, and sure, she might have known not to talk to strangers. But she was upset that day. She was walking home from school when she didn’t want to, she wasn’t getting the sleepover with her friend that she was hoping for… and there was this nice man, offering to take her home. I mean, that’s what we’re all thinking happened here, right? We know that van saw her, and the driver likely talked to her after school when she went to Richard’s Market but before she was able to call Mom. And then we know the van caught up with her again after she hung around school before starting her walk home, finally leaving the school grounds. But what about earlier in the day, between class periods 2 and 3?  That was the first time Linda walked over to the store. Could this POS have been driving around scoping out the area at that time? We don’t know. But we do know that she interacted with the driver of a turquoise van two times, while she was alone, off of school property, and the next morning, she was found killed. 

And that is all we get as far as news coverage and theories go all the way up until 2018. The only thing in between that I could find was a blurb in 1988 from the LA Times that summarizes the case. And this time they actually admit that Linda had been sexually assaulted. Throughout the years, the NBPD precinct kept a special place on the wall for a framed portrait of Linda, a daily reminder to not give up the search for her killer, so he could be brought to justice. And as time passed, DNA technology evolved and CODIS was born. The suspect DNA in Linda’s case was run through CODIS many many times, but a hit never came back from the search. This was discouraging; if this was a stranger abduction, and there was not going to be any new evidence or leads to follow after 10, 20, 30 years, AND this guy was never picked up for another crime, requiring a cheek swab and his ticket into the CODIS database, then how would the case ever be solved? 

Approaching the 45th anniversary of Linda’s murder in 2018, the Newport Beach PD comes up with a novel plan: tell Linda’ story,  as it is currently known, on Twitter, on the day she went missing. Maybe this will humanize her story more, they’re thinking. This crime took place so long ago, maybe people don’t know about it, maybe people don’t feel an urgency to come forward. Because, you see, right around when they are putting together this Twitter campaign/blast - whateveryoucallit -  they’ve also reached out to Parabon Nanolabs - yes yes, it’s Parabon this time -  and they send over some of the DNA evidence left at the crime scene, hoping to get a phenotype composite of the POS that killed Linda. So this is what the plan is: get the public’s interest  in the case again using the hashtag Linda’sstory. And while everyone is talking about the case again, release the phenotype. And then we hope someone finally decides to come forward and tell their story. Maybe they know the guy, maybe he had a blue van, maybe he lived in the area, maybe maybe, maybe.  There will be a link in the show notes for #LindasStory if you want to read through it and see additional pictures from the case. 

And in case some of us aren’t sure what a phenotype is… it’s a digital rendering of a possible suspect. It’s made from the information about our physical features found in our DNA. So it can kind of look like a witness’s police sketch… but it will, in my opinion, always look like the real person once their identity is found out. It can’t account for a person's weight, dyed hair, facial scars or that stuff… but it can predict eye color, skin tone, bone structure, and even if you have freckles! Technology is incredible.

So that was the summer of 2018, but it wouldn’t be until the beginning of 2019 that LE would finally get something from the evidence that would get them closer to finding Linda’s killer. In January of 2019, Parabon helped Newport Beach Police narrow in on a possible name of a suspect, based on their genealogy research using the suspect DNA profile. This suspect is currently living out of state, over in Colorado Springs. So Detectives hop in the car and drive over to Colorado…. Or maybe they fly. It’s a 16hr drive. This guy is surveilled, discards something (Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer won’t release any details) … and some point… this suspect’s abandoned DNA is compared to the semen found at the crime scene so many years ago. And it’s a match. And here we go: On February 20, 2019, the Newport Beach police and Orange County Sherriff's departments announce the arrest of James Alan Neal for the abduction, rape and murder of Linda Ann O’Keefe, 45 years prior. 

Who is James Alan Neal? Who is this piece of shit? James Alan Neal came into being in Florida, sometime after 1973. This was after Linda’s murder. At that time, in 1973, he was still going by his birth name, James Alan George Layton Jr. James Layton Jr. was born on July 28, 1946 in Chicago. Over the years, he had a handful of other aliases:  James Albert Lyton, Allen George Gilstrap and James Albert.

When POS Layton, or Neal… I guess we have to call him Neal, since that’s what the press calls him, and I don’t want to confuse us here. But seriously, fuck him. I’ll tell you now, he keeps changing his name because he kept getting sent to jail. So yeah, he’ll always be James Layton Jr because that's really where his heart was. Much like the opposite of John Proctor in the Crucible… “but it's my name!!!!” 

POS Neal -Layton- as we said, was born in Chicago.  He was one of 3 kids and had a sister and a brother. The family moved to Orange County CA when he was around 9yo. Something was going on in that family, or maybe just something going on in his own head, but Neal’s first arrest would be when he was just 13 year old, and this was for burglary. So we have a delinquent on our hands here. Prior to dropping out of high school at age 17, Neal was arrested a total of three times for burglary or other minor offences. So nothing violent just yet. POS Neal worked odd jobs as a young adult, but he couldn’t keep his sticky fingers to himself, and actually robbed the very gas station he worked for in 1964, which got him nine months in jail.

Ok o, you ever have a puppy or a kitten that you're trying to hold still for whatever reason? You're trying to stick him in a bath or put a collar on him, and just keeps slipping from your grasp… and you have to keep pulling him back? That's this guy. So try to keep up because he’s going to be slipping from state to state and court to court for the next 10 years.

 Not deterred, once he got out of jail for the burglary he committed at 18yo, Neal - Layton - hopped from job to job again, and then the very next year, tried to tip police about another burglary they were investigating. They quickly determined, however, that he was one of the perpetrators they were looking for. So that wasn’t too smart of him; he ratted himself out. He spent some more time in jail for that offense, and after that, decided to just leave California altogether. I mean, yeah, if I was intent on robbing people and places and the police keep figuring out it’s me, I would pick up and move too. Try to find a jurisdiction that won’t be able to zero in on me, right? I’m just trying to live my B&E life over here… these damn cops keep getting in my way and tossing my ass in jail. 

At point, Neal was pushing only 20yo, and per one of his probation officer’s reports, he was, “ quite emotionally immature and psychologically unstable. He has not been able to relate well with other students, family members, or inmates of institutions.” Neal does acknowledge his social issues, and even his bad family relationships, claiming he didn’t get along with his siblings because he was such a rebellious asshole to their parents. In this probation report, Neal says he knows he has to get his ass in gear, and he thinks maybe if he just finishes his training to become a dental assistant, he’ll make enough money to get the psychiatric treatment he needs. So. I mean, what do you say to that? Lol, moving on. 

So when left California, he jumped around from Ohio, to Kentucky, and then back down and over to Colorado. At this point it’s the summer of 1966 -  Linda is only 4yo right now - and he’s suspected again for stealing from his gas station job! Just after the theft, he skipped town, but police found him over in Utah and hauled him to Denver to face charges. Things didn’t go as planned at trial, and it ended with a hung jury, but they were able to sentence him to probation and assigned him to the “Mountain Parks Work Project.” Neal realized soon enough there’s no money to steal in park maintenance, so he skipped town again! And again police hunt him down, this time in Oklahoma and bring him back. But this time he was on the run from the criminal justice system, not just running to avoid charges being filed against him. He quickly escapes again - my god - and they hunt him down again!! This time he was able to get all the way north, into Canada and all the way up to the Yukon Territory. That’s the province along the northern part of Canada - it touches Alaska.  This POS. Like, knock it the fuck off, and just chill out.

Finally, because now it’s not just the thefts he’s in trouble for, it’s also escaping police custody, POS Neal was sentenced to 3-10 in a Colorado State prison. And he was able to hold tight for three years. Released on parole in the summer of 1971, he managed to stay out of trouble for time being. He moved back into California, back by his parents in Orange County, and two summers later, Linda was abducted, raped, and murdered.

Shortly after this, Neal decides he’s done with the Western United States and treks on over and down to Florida. Within three months, he was arrested again! Its unclear what this is for, but he tells his parole officer to fuck off, and himself an extended parole term and is officially let off parole in 1977. And all this time he was James Layton Jrs in the courts or some other alias on the streets. So after this, he decides to officially change his name to James Alan Neal. I wonder - is that even allowed now? Can convicted criminals get permission to change their names? I guess so back in the 70s. And then by the end of 1977, James Neal ties the knot. I guess he’s ready to settle down. And maybe it was the love of a good woman that did it, that’s actually kind of what he does. He and his wife raise four daughters - yes daughters! The family spent most of the years between 1977 and 2015 in California, and they owned a construction business, James Neal Construction. Of course. Because his guy has been living in plain sight. In 2014, the business failed and Neal and his wife filed for bankruptcy, listing social security benefits as their sole source of income. Supposedly he had some kind of chronic medical condition. After that was all taken care of, they moved back over to Colorado, and have been living in Colorado Springs ever since. And that is where the CSPD pick him up in February of 2019.

By the time of his arrest, POS James Neal had been married to the same woman for 41 years, had four grown daughters, 15 grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren. OMG that poor family. The pain and confusion they must be going through these last few years is just unimaginable. Can you imagine - you’re in college, and walk in the door one day, just home from class, and your mom tells you that grandpa has been arrested for the rape and murder of an 11yo girl back in 1973? What? WTF are you talking about? Or it’s your dad? Or your father-in-law. Or your husband. That you raised children with. And ran a company with. You’ve been with this man longer in your life that you weren’t with him. that can’t be an easy burden to carry, no matter whether the family believes the charges or not. We have to hope for nothing but peace and a lot of reconciliation for them.

James Neal pled not guilty to the charges. Oh - and also - also to two counts of sexually molesting two other minor females, one in 1995 and one in 2000. Both were just one county over from where he lived back in the day, where the O’Keefe’s lived. Neal wasn’t charged with these other girls' cases until this arrest for Lnda though. I’m wondering here if that means the three cases were matched in CODIS all this time… being that the unknown suspect was the same for all three crimes, but there was never a name to identify the asshole. Thankfully, Parabon was finally able to do it. 

Ultimately, we would not get our day in curt, and he would not admit to killing Linda or the other molestations. POS Neal died on May 25, 2020 of an undisclosed medical event. We are told he did not have symptoms relating to COVID-19, but that’s all we know. He spent 15 months pending trial for the murder of Linda Ann O’Keefe and his crimes against the two other girls. And we hope they were rough. And we hope his death was painful. 

Closing Tribute, Linda’s sister Cindy Borgeson: “She would have been 57 this year. I wonder sometimes what kind of life she would have lived. Would she be married? Have a family? Probably. I don’t dwell on that because that wasn’t her outcome. She just had this spirituality to her that’s hard to put into words...I know in my heart that Linda was in heaven celebrating with our parents when they arrested him.” “My hope is that it brings hope to other families, who haven’t had theirs resolved yet.”