By Tessa Osteen
A murder case that has been unsolved since the early 1970’s is now finally resolved with the help of a DNA sample on a genealogy website last January. A summer afternoon back in 1973 Linda walked home from summer school and never made it back. When nighttime came and Linda never showed, her parents grew worrisome and called the police as well as search their neighborhood. A day later, Linda was found dead strangled in a ditch with the same dress she was wearing the day before. Before her death, she was last seen at an intersection talking to a man in a blue van. Over fourty years later police arrested a seventy year old man now living in Colorado named James Neal. Receiving a strong lead toward solving the case, the police started investigating James Neal back in January.
With a sample of Neal’s DNA, matching the DNA the authorities found at the crime scene back in the 1970’s, they were able to arrest him in Colorado Springs just this past February. Newport Beach police chief Jon Lewis says how, “Linda’s face and her memory has been with us since the day this happened.” The police chief also add’s how, “Her picture hangs in our detective division, where our folks see it every day as a reminder of her and why we continue to pursue these cases.” With both of Linda’s parents dead, both of her sisters are still alive and have been given the updates on the case of James Neal’s arrest. The Orange County District Attorney also points out how, “Our hearts go out to the victim and the victims 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.”
Last year in July on the anniversary of Linda’s murder, the Newport Beach Police Department live tweeted the last moments of Linda’s life written in “her voice” from the perspective of her last day. The police dept decided to do his in Linda’s remembrance and to bring awareness of her murder to others around social media. Along with the help of social media support, the real reason the long standing murder was solved is the Genealogy website Family Tree DNA tremendously helped this decade-old case. Neal was charged with kidnapping, lewd and lascivious acts with a child. He faces a life in prison without parole if convicted for his crimes.