NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA) – A man accused of raping and killing an 11-year-old girl in Newport Beach almost five decades ago died in prison early Wednesday morning after being hospitalized for an unspecified illness.
James Alan Neal, 73, who was detained at the Theo Lacy facility in Orange, was taken to a nearby hospital on May 25 for an unspecified illness. Officials said he did not have COVID-19 symptoms.
Neal was arrested on March 11, 2019 by the Newport Beach Police Department for murder and child abuse in the murder of 11-year-old Linda Ann O’Keefe in July 1973.
"The pursuit of justice never stops, and in this case, the hunt for a child rapist and murderer lasted more than 46 years and went beyond generations of law enforcement officers," said Todd Spitzer, Orange County District Attorney, in a statement. “It wasn't when, but when we would find the 11-year-old's killer
Linda O’Keefe, and when that day came in 2019 due to advances in genetic genealogy, we thought we had come a step closer to justice for Linda and her family.
"The death of James Neal, before being brought to justice for Linda's rape and murder, robs the O & # 39; Keefe family of the justice they deserve and deprives police officers of the satisfaction that they finally got their guilty party . "
Neal was charged with sexual assault multiple times in the 1990s and early 2000s for allegedly attacking two children in Riverside County. According to the prosecutor, these alleged crimes were exposed during the investigation into Linda's death.
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