James Neal

James Neal has been identified as the lead suspect in the July 6, 1973 rape and murder of 11-year-old Linda O’Keefe in Newport Beach, California. The case has been cleared by exception due to the death of Neal.

O’Keefe was abducted while walking home from school and a massive search was launched. Her body was found the next day in a ditch in Back Bay. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled to death. She was wearing a white dress with blue flowers that her mother had made. Her mother made most of her daughters’ clothes and was sewing that day when Linda called to ask for a ride home. She told Linda to walk since was a nice summer day. Linda was last seen speaking with a man in a turquoise van, who might have offered her a ride.

The FGG investigation was conducted by Parabon Nanolabs.

Neal had been living in the area at the time of the murder, using the alias ‘James Albert Layton Jr.’, a name he later changed after a criminal conviction for sexual offences. He was accused of sexually assaulting two other young girls in the 1990s and again in 2002. Neal passed away in custody awaiting trial at the age of 73.


Geanous, Jacob. “‘Serial Child Sex Predator’ Dies in Police Custody Before He Faces Justice.” Metro, July 26, 2020. Accessed December 26, 2020. https://metro.co.uk/2020/07/26/serial-child-sex-predator-dies-police-custody-before-faces-justice-13031107/.

Shapiro, Emily, and Karma Allen. “DNA Leads to Man’s Arrest 46 Years After Murder of 11-Year-Old Linda O’Keefe: ‘We Have Never Forgotten Linda’.” ABC News, February 20, 2019. Accessed December 26, 2020. https://abcnews.go.com/US/california-cold-case-solved-50-years-11-year/story?id=61181451.

Sylte, Allison. “Timeline: Before 2019 Arrest for a Decades-Old Murder, James Neal Had a Different Name and a Criminal History.” NBC 9 News, April 29, 2019. Accessed December 26, 2020. https://www.9news.com/article/news/investigations/timeline-before-2019-arrest-for-a-decades-old-murder-james-neal-had-a-different-name-and-a-criminal-history/73-3622e7e2-d540-4b0c-bc61-dfbfb806e2e0.

Vaughan, Kevin. “Suspect in 1973 Cold-Case Rape, Murder of 11-Year-Old California Girl Falls Ill, Dies While Awaiting Trial.” NBC 9 News, July 23, 2020. Accessed December 26, 2020. https://www.9news.com/article/news/crime/true-crime/suspect-sick-dies-california-child-rape-murder-cold-case-1973/73-b8a11fba-1999-499a-8dbe-51535ea8b4ba.


First Name James
Last Name Neal
Other Names
Victims 1 (Details)
IGG Started nd
Case Cleared 2019-02-19
IGG Org Parabon


Case ID Name Age Case Opened Location Investigating Org Most Serious Charge Disposition Court
1164 Linda O'Keefe 11 1973-07-06 Newport Beach, CA Newport Beach PD Second degree murder Case was cleared by exception due to death of perpetrator n/a

Last updated: February 9, 2024

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Case data and narrative licensed under CC BY 4.0: Dowdeswell, Tracey (2023), “Forensic Genetic Genealogy Project v. 2022”, Mendeley Data, V1, doi: 10.17632/jcycgvhm96.1. All other content, including photos, have been added.