NEA Report last night dug up information from Linda Collins’ divorce case that reflects her friendship with the suspect in her death and a financial connection with the suspect’s boyfriend.
State Police Friday evening arrested Becky O’Donnell, 48, in the death last week of Collins, found outside her home with fatal wounds apparently inflicted several days before. The cause of death hasn’t been revealed. No formal charge has been filed.
Authorities haven’t discussed any connection between O’Donnell and Collins, but Stan Morris of NEA Report went to the record of Collins’ divorce last year from retired Circuit Judge Phil Smith and found them. (As I’ve reported previously, my wife, retired Judge Ellen Brantley, heard the divorce case. Collins has appealed the property settlement and NEA Report drew information about the case from her attorney’s appeal before the Arkansas Court of Appeals — shown here in part. Smith’s response is due next week.)
Becky O’Donnell was a witness for Collins in the divorce, testifying to Collins’ residency in Pocahontas and her separation from Smith. Separation for 18 months is ground for divorce. Smith didn’t contest the divorce.
O’Donnell’s boyfriend, Tim Loggains, came up during a post-divorce decree hearing on newly discovered financial information. Loggains had Collins’ power of attorney, according to NEA Report’s account of testimony in the case. That figured in evidence about Collins’ handling of a substantial federal tax refund. NEA Report said that testimony showed Loggains had deposited $52,408, a state income tax refund, into the Collins/Smith joint account and then a check was written from that account for a cashier’s check in that amount to Linda Collins. Subsequently, an attempt was made to cash a $428,522 federal income tax refund paid jointly to Collins and Smith. The bank, Bancorp South, checked with Smith and he asked that the check not be cashed without his signature. The check was subsequently deposited at a Hoxie bank. NEA Report said Smith wanted Loggains to be stopped from using joint accounts without his permission. The judge ordered that the contested refund be placed in an attorney’s trust account and it later figured in a revised computation of division of assets.
Also Friday night, Collins’ family released a statement through Ken Yang, who had been a political supporter and friend of Collins:
This evening our family received news that an arrest was made in connection to the ongoing investigation. We are sickened and upset that someone so close to Linda, would be involved in such a terrible, heartless crime. The family is very confident that the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department and the Arkansas State Police will continue to work diligently to bring justice to this case. We would like to thank everyone for the continued prayers and thoughts for our family during this difficult time.
The arrest was made as the family gathered with other mourners at a visitation at Sutton Freewill Baptist Church. A funeral is set there this morning.
NEA Report says, again relying on an anonymous source, that O’Donnell was riding with Loggains to the Friday night visitation when they were stopped on Highway 62. NEA Report said.
A family source told NEA Report the vehicle was impounded. Both were taken to the sheriff’s office, with O’Donnell under arrest and Loggains simply being questioned. A search warrant was executed at the residence the couple shares. Electronic devices were searched. Loggains was released. O’Donnell will remain in custody and have her probable cause hearing on Monday, the sheriff told media outlets.
NEA Report, again quoting an unnamed source, said authorities had talked to O’Donnell and Loggains shortly after Collins’ death was reported.
Social media pages reflect friendly association among Collins, Loggains and O’Donnell over the years. Loggains turns up on the Internet as a supporter of political views Collins shared, such as gun rights. She and Loggains both have been identified as supporters of Patriots of Act 746, a group that contends that Act 746 of 2013 eliminated the need for a permit to carry a weapon openly or concealed in Arkansas.
Collins was found dead the evening of June 4 when family checked on her. She’d gone silent on social media about a week before. O’Donnell updated her own Facebook account June 10 and used a smiling photo of herself with Collins as her featured profile photograph.