Po­lice: Woman ar­rested in ex-law­maker’s death


LIT­TLE ROCK — Au­thor­i­ties on Fri­day night said they’ve ar­rested an Arkansas woman in con­nec­tion with the killing of a for­mer state sen­a­tor who was found dead out­side her own home.

Arkansas State Po­lice said they and Ran­dolph County sher­iff’s deputies ar­rested 48-year-old Re­becca Lynn O’don­nell in con­nec­tion with the death of for­mer state Sen. Linda Collins . Po­lice said crim­i­nal charges were pend­ing and did not say whether they were seeking any other suspects in Collins’ death.

Collins, 57, who went by Collins-smith in the Leg­is­la­ture, was found dead June 4 out­side her home in Poc­a­hon­tas, about 130 miles (210 kilo­me­ters) north­east of Lit­tle Rock.

A State Po­lice spokesman de­clined to say where O’don­nell was be­ing held. The Ran­dolph County jail re­ferred ques­tions to the sher­iff, who did not im­me­di­ately re­turn a call seeking com­ment. State Po­lice said it did not know when O’don­nell would ap­pear in court.

Ken Yang, a for­mer com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor for Collins, said O’don­nell had worked on the for­mer law­maker’s most re­cent cam­paign and that the two were friends. Yang said Collins’ fam­ily did not have an im­me­di­ate com­ment on the ar­rest but may is­sue a state­ment.

Collins served one term in the state House and was orig­i­nally elected as a Demo­crat in 2010. But she switched par­ties and be­came a Re­pub­li­can in 2011, the year be­fore the GOP won con­trol of both cham­bers of the Leg­is­la­ture. She was elected to the state Sen­ate in 2014 and was one of the most con­ser­va­tive law­mak­ers in the ma­jor­ity-gop cham­ber. She lost re-elec­tion in the Re­pub­li­can pri­mary last year. Collins and her hus­band, re­tired Cir­cuit Judge Philip Smith, di­vorced last year and were in the mid­dle of a le­gal fight over their prop­er­ties, in­clud­ing a mo­tel.

Au­thor­i­ties have re­leased few de­tails about Collins’ killing and have not said how or when the for­mer law­maker was killed. A judge last week granted a re­quest by pros­e­cu­tors to seal doc­u­ments and state­ments ob­tained by po­lice dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Collins was ac­tive on so­cial me­dia but her last tweet was posted in late May.

Collins’ fu­neral is sched­uled for Sat­ur­day morn­ing in Poc­a­hon­tas. Collins’ two adult chil­dren and father said Mon­day they were sad­dened and an­gered by the for­mer law­maker’s killing.

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