NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (FOX 11) - Authorities identified a suspect Wednesday who was arrested in the 1973 killing of an 11-year-old girl in Newport Beach.
James Alan Neal, 72, was taken into custody in Colorado Springs, Colorado, officials from the Orange County District Attorney's office announced during a news conference Wednesday morning.
Neal is accused of killing Linda Ann O'Keefe, who lived in Corona del Mar. She was last seen alive walking home from summer school on July 6, 1973, and her body was recovered the following morning in the Back Bay area.
During a press conference, investigators said that Neal lived in Orange County in the 1970s, at which time, he went by the name James Alan George Layton. He later changed his name to James Alan Neal, authorities said.
Neal has been charged with murder and District Attorney Todd Spitzer said the suspect could potentially face a death sentence, although there is some question about whether capital punishment could be applied in the case given the date of the killing and the laws that were on the books at the time.
Newport Beach police in July mounted a Twitter campaign releasing information about the killing to try to spur new leads.
The tweets detailing the last hours of Linda's life included photographs from the crime scene and a newly created "snapshot'' of the suspect that was put together by scientists at Parabon NanoLabs. The tweets concluded with a video that included interviews with the detectives who have worked on finding the girl's killer through the years.
Newport Beach police last year hired Parabon, a Virginia-based DNA technology company specializing in a process using genetic material, to build a sort of composite sketch of a suspect at 25 years old and how the killer might look today.
District Attorney Todd Spitzer said, “As the Orange County District Attorney, I am committed to protecting the community. My office will never forget about cold cases. 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.”
CNS contributed to this report.