Colorado man pleads not guilty in California cold case death

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A Colorado man has pleaded not guilty to murder in the 1973 death of an 11-year-old California girl.

James Neal of Monument, Colorado, also pleaded not guilty in an Orange County courtroom Friday to lewd and lascivious acts on two girls under age 14. Authorities say those crimes happened between 1995 and 2004 in Riverside County east of Los Angeles.

The 72-year-old Neal was extradited to California from Colorado after he was charged with murder in the death of 11-year-old Linda O’Keefe in the seaside community of Newport Beach.

O’Keefe disappeared while she was walking home from summer school. Her body was found strangled in a ditch the next day.

Investigators identified Neal as a suspect using genealogical DNA.

His next court appearance is set for June 14.

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