'Everyone Returns Home, Everyone but Me': Police Tweet as Long-Dead Girl to Spotlight Cold Case
As part of an effort to renew interest in the unsolved slaying of an 11-year-old girl more than 40 years ago, police in California used their Twitter account last weekend to recount the story of her life, mysterious disappearance and death.
In a series of narrative posts from the perspective of the slain girl, Linda O’Keefe, Newport Beach police relayed what they know about what happened while imploring the public to come forward with any additional information.
Linda disappeared while heading the short distance home from summer school on July 6, 1973.
For several hours that day, into the evening, Linda’s parents still thought she was fine — perhaps only staying out late because she was upset she had to walk back from class.
Her body was found in a nature preserve the following morning by a group of men looking for frogs. She had been strangled.
Beginning Friday morning, the Twitter account of the Newport Beach Police Department started publishing details about Linda’s last day alive in first-person posts.
“I’m Linda O’Keefe (or Linda ANN O’Keefe, if I’m in trouble with my mom),” reads the first tweet. “Forty-five years ago today, I disappeared from Newport Beach. I was murdered and my body was found in the Back Bay. My killer was never found. Today, I’m going to tell you my story.
“I was 11 years old on the day I disappeared. It’s kinda strange… that year (1973), July 6 also fell on a Friday. It was a cool day. Cooler than usual. The high was about 70 degrees.”
Twitter highlighted the social media campaign and the hashtag #LindasStory was trending for much of the weekend.
The tweets traced Linda’s movements that last day of her life — from the moment she stepped out the front door to the time she was found dead — and further detailed her background, including her love of the piano and the arts.
“I’m a pretty quiet kid, I guess,” the department wrote in one post. “I don’t talk as much as some people, that’s for sure! People call me shy. My parents say I’m ‘sensitive,’ which I think means that I’m an easy crier. It’s true.”
Police also released an updated composite sketch of the suspect that they say is based off of DNA evidence recovered from Linda’s remains.
She was last seen wearing a dress her mother had made her, according to the police tweets.
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Authorities said a turquoise van cruising around outside Linda’s school the day she disappeared aroused suspicion with both parents and students. One of the girl’s friends said the vehicle stopped next to Linda multiple times.
Another witness reported the van “parked along the curb” with the front passenger door open and Linda standing next to it. The driver, the witness said, was a white man in his mid 20s or early 30s.
“When my dad gets home from work, worry turns to action,” police wrote last weekend as Linda, recalling that day. “We have two family cars. My dad gets in one, my big sister gets in the other, and they start to look for me. There’s a feeling that I’m being disobedient, not that anything is actually wrong.”
“Everyone returns home,” the tweets continued. “Everyone but me, that is.”
Anyone who may have any information on this unsolved crime is asked to call the Newport Beach Police Cold Case Tip Line at 949-644-3669.
The department is also asking the public to share Linda’s story on Twitter, hoping someone will recognize the man from the new composite image released of the suspect.