LINDA COLLINS: State Police believe they’ve identified her killer.

State Police announced tonight that they believed they’d solved the killing of Linda Collins, the former Republican senator from Pocahontas, who was found dead in the driveway of her home outside Pocahontas the night of June 4.

The release:

Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division and Deputies of the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department, in coordination with the Third Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, have arrested one person in connection with the homicide of former Arkansas State Senator Linda Collins-Smith.
Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, 48, of Pocahontas is currently in custody.  Criminal charges are pending.   
The investigation is presently at a critical juncture and no further information will be released at this hour until authorities are confident it will not comprise the integrity of the criminal case.

Collins, known as Linda Collins-Smith until her divorce in the fall from retired Circuit Judge Phil Smith, was identified from the beginning as a homicide victim, but the cause of death has not been revealed. Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce of Newport got a court order sealing documents about the case. Police weren’t barred from talking, but comments have been few.

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Collins, who originally ran for office as a Democrat, was among the most conservative members of the Senate, so conservative that a Republican who defeated her for re-election in 2018 ran slightly to her left, being open particularly to the state’s Medicaid expansion. She was pro-gun, anti-abortion and supported laws to limit rights of LGBT people.

Collins was found wrapped in some kind of covering outside her home about 7 in the evening. There are some homes nearby, but her house is set back from the road and shielded by trees.

The arrest was announced as the family held a visitation with mourners at a local Baptist church. NEA Report, quoting sources, says O’Donnell was arrested on Highway 62, near the church.

THE COLLINS HOME    Credit: Brian Chilson

The search for connections turned up this photo from Facebook of a Becky O’Donnell of Pocahontas (right) and Linda Smith. I can’t confirm at this point if the person arrested is the same one in the photo. She made it her profile photo June 10, after Collins had been killed. Collins’ last post on social media was May 28. Police haven’t said when they thought she was killed. Update: The Randolph County sheriff has told KATV that the woman in this photo is the suspect The Facebook page includes photos and video of people campaigning for Collins

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