New suspect photo released in search for witnesses in 1973 homicide, sexual assault of Newport Beach girl
KTLA / Orange County
Linda Ann O’Keefe, left, and James Alan Neal are seen in photos released by the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

By Erika Martin, KTLA

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (KTLA) -- The day after announcing the arrest of a suspect in the 1973 sexual assault and killing of an 11-year-old girl in Newport Beach, authorities on Thursday released a photo showing what the man looked like around the time of the attack in hopes that additional witnesses will come forward.

After nearly half a century of investigation, James Alan Neal was named Wednesday as the man accused of abducting Linda Ann O’Keefe on her walk home from school in July 1973, then molesting and killing her, dumping her strangled body in a ditch in Newport Beach’s Back Bay.

Neal, 72, was taken into custody Tuesday in Colorado, where he now lives. He’s still weighing whether he will fight extradition to face the Orange County charges but is expected to state his decision at a Feb. 28 court appearance, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported.

Though officials released a more current driver’s license photo of Neal on Wednesday, they hope the image shared Thursday will lead anyone who may have seen Neal at or around the time of the killing to come forward. It’s unknown exactly when the snapshot was taken, but it was likely in the late ’70s or early ’80s, O.C. prosecutors said in a news release.

Although authorities had said Neal went by the name of James Alan George Layton at the time of the killing, on Thursday they said that was wrong — the actual name was James Albert Layton, Jr. Investigators believe he lived in Southern California in the 1970s and had changed his name following an incident in Florida.

DNA evidence collected at the crime scene eventually linked Neal to the case after investigators matched it with data from a genealogical website, O.C. District Attorney Todd Spitzer said.

Newport Beach police ask anyone with further information on the investigation to call their cold-case tip line at (949) 644-3669.

MORE: New Suspect Photo Released in Search for Witnesses in 1973 Homicide, Sexual Assault of Newport Beach Girl - KTLA

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