California cops use first-person tweets in bid to solve decades-old cold case

A Southern California police department has attempted to jog memories about a 45-year-old murder case by tweeting about the crime in the voice of the 11-year-old victim.

The Newport Beach Police Department suspended all its normal Twitter content on Saturday to post an extensive series of tweets about Linda O’Keefe, an 11-year-old girl who was kidnapped while walking home from school on July 6, 1973. The blue-eyed girl’s body was found the following morning in a nearby nature preserve.

The department wrote the powerful tweets as if Linda herself was telling readers about the last hours of her young life. The tweets became a Moment on the social media site and have been gaining attention under #LindasStory.

Although police have become more reliant on Twitter and other platforms to spread the word about important cases or public safety information, the dozens of unique tweets telling Linda’s story show how some departments are more fully embracing the power and popularity of such outlets.

The tweets begin by telling readers about Linda’s morning and day at summer school, including that her mother told her she couldn’t pick her up and to take the short walk home.

“No one is concerned when I don’t come home from school right away. Or not TOO concerned, anyway,” reads one post written in Linda’s voice. “It’s a different time back in 1973, and kids roam the neighborhood on their bikes for hours at a time.”

The tweets detail how Linda’s parents and 18-year-old sister began looking for her and calling around to friends and family.

They also explain in chilling detail how a bicyclist found her body while he was looking for frogs among cattails.

“He sees something small, and pale. My hand. He sees my hand,” the tweet reads. “He screams, trying to rouse me.”

Another tweet describes how the man’s friends follow his screams and see her body, as well.

“They don’t know who I am, of course ... or who I was,” the tweet says. “But they see a young girl’s body, still in my mom’s homemade dress. I’ve been strangled.”

In addition to the tweets, the department posted what they say is a new lead, images of the suspected killer and what he might have looked like in 1973 and what he would look like now — all based on DNA evidence used to predict his eye, hair and skin color, and his face shape.

In a statement, the department said the posts were designed to “give Linda a voice once again.”

“Years have passed since this heinous murder, but the (department) remains dedicated to justice for Linda, and committed to finding her killer,” the department said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.