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UPDATE: Suspect in 45-year-old cold case nabbed in Southern Colorado

James Neal extradition hearing extended

MONUMENT, Colo. - More than 45 years after a murder in Newport Beach, California, investigators arrested a suspected killer. 

James Alan Neal, 72, of Monument, CO, was taken into custody Tuesday morning, for the killing of 11-year-old Linda O'Keefe.  The girl was abducted July 6, 1973, walking home from summer school.  The next day, her lifeless body was found in a ditch next to a road.  She had been strangled. 

Neal was in court Thursday to be read his extradition charges. But the charges hadn't been filed, so the judge extended the reading until Feb. 28, at 8 A.M.

Leads in the crime had long gone cold, until investigators were able to match DNA evidence left on O'Keefe's dress to a geneaological database.  That "hit," according to Todd Spitzer, the Orange County District attorney, came in January.  Authorities were then able to arrest Neal through "good ol' fashioned police work," said Spitzer during a press conference. 

Wednesday, Neal's mugshot was released. 

Neal faces murder, kidnapping during the commission of murder, and willful premiditated lewd and lascivious acts upon a child charges. 

The arrest was made through a cooperation of multiple agencies, including the Colorado Springs Police Department, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, FBI, Newport Beach Police Department, and Orange County Crime Lab. 

Neal is in the El Paso County Jail on no bond.  It's not known if he will waive extradition. 

According to Orange County authorities, after the crime, Neal moved to Florida where he changed his name. Neal has also used the name James Alan George Leyton.  It was unclear during the press conference if that is the name is used while in Florida. 

Neal is married with four daughters, 11 grandchilldren and 15 great grandchildren. Authorities say this is "relelvent to the investigation".

This is a developing story.  Stay tuned to KRDO NewsChannel 13 for updates.


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