SANTA ANA, Calif. -- Officials have arrested a man accused of killing a Southern California girl more than 45 years ago.
The Orange County District Attorney, Todd Spitzer, said on Wednesday, 72-year-old James Alan Neal was arrested in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the death of 11-year-old Linda O’Keefe in Newport Beach.
Linda disappeared on July 6, 1973. She was last seen walking home from summer school, and her body was found the next day.
One of her sisters, Cindy Borgeson, who lives in Tucson, remembers the day her sister went missing. She says, "She went to summer school and we were home and we were getting ready for the afternoon, getting dinner ready. And I remember she didn't come home and it was starting to get dark, so my dad and I got in the car, and went to look for her."
Borgeson says later that night, her parents called police. The next day, her father told her the sad news. "I walk in the house, my parents are distressed and I'm thinking, oh my gosh what's going on? My dad says, 'they found her.' I'm thinking, that's great and he says 'no, you don't understand, they found her body.'"
Police in Newport Beach, California say Linda was last seen on a sidewalk near the passenger door of a van. Her body was found the next morning in a ditch, wearing a dress her mother had sewn for her, and a bookbag she was carrying.
Borgeson remembers, "my parents never really got over it. I mean, they really were grieved until they passed. I mean, it really was.. they never had peace with it."
Even though it's been decades since Linda died, Borgeson still keeps pictures to keep her memory alive. She says, "I remember my dad saying, 'ok we're going to go take pictures and you better smile or you're going to get in trouble when you get home.'"
And although both of her parents have passed, Borgeson believes that now, they are finally at peace.
Borgeson says for her, "after all this time, finding out that there's a face and a name to the individual brings additional closure. Because, I had closure when they found her body the next day. ANd because of my profound faith, I've been able to forgive the individual and even pray for him and his family today."
The district attorney says the arrest happened with the help of genealogical DNA.
Borgeson says, "I actually never thought this day would come. I really in my wildest dreams never thought this would be the outcome."
Officials say Neal lived in Southern California in the 1970s.