Third Judicial Circuit Prosecutor Henry Boyce announced today that he will seek the death penalty against the woman charged in the killing of former state Sen. Linda Collins. Rebecca O’Donnell, 48, of Pocahontas was arraigned this afternoon in Randolph County District Court on charges of capital murder, abuse of a corpse and hindering physical evidence. She pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Collins died of multiple stab wounds, an arrest affidavit released today revealed. According to the report, Collins’ son Butch Smith and father, Benny Collins, found the body, which had been wrapped in a blanket under a tarp in the driveway, on June 4. He had gone to the home because he’d been unable to contact her. The body was in an advanced state of decomposition. An investigation later indicated that the body had been moved from inside the residence to the tarp. Investigators obtained video footage from Linda Collins’ security system on June 14 that showed O’Donnell removing security cameras on May 28, the last day investigators determined Collins was seen alive.
A local circuit judge had approved Prosecutor Boyce’s request that documents in the case be sealed. That judge later recused himself from the case because he had worked with Collins’ ex-husband, retired Circuit Judge Phil Smith. Retired Judge David Goodson was later appointed to hear the case and upheld the order to seal the documents.