A body, apparently that of former Arkansas State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, 57, was found dead Tuesday at her home in Pocahontas from what appeared to be a gunshot wound.
The Randolph County Sheriff’s Office’s said in a statement that the condition of the body prevented any immediate positive identification.
Officers responded to the scene about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday. The Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Unit and forensic examiners from the Arkansas State Crime Lab were also dispatched.
The body has been sent to Little Rock to make a positive identification and to determine a cause of death.
Circuit Court Judge Harold Erwin issued an order sealing documents and statements obtained by law enforcement during the investigation.
Collins-Smith was elected to the Arkansas House in 2011 as a Democrat, but switched parties and ran for the State Senate as a Republican in 2014. She was defeated for re-election in 2018.
She was the wife of former Circuit Court Judge Philip Smith. They divorced last year. In February, Philip Smith received a reprimand from the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission. A complaint against the former judge, who retired in 2017, said that while in office, he had used state computer equipment after hours for “extrajudicial activities.” He agreed not to serve in the state judicial branch in the future.
Collins-Smith was the owner and operator of Days Inn and Suites of Pocahontas. The Smiths have two adult children.
The Arkansas Republican Party issued a brief statement via Twitter.
“(Tuesday), we learned of the untimely death of former Senator Linda Collins-Smith. She was a passionate voice for her people and a close member of our Republican family. We are praying for her loved ones during this difficult time,” the statement said.