Murder case

An arrest has been made in the murder of a former Arkansas state senator.

Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, 48, of Pocahontas was arrested Friday in connection with the homicide of former Arkansas State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, 57, also of Pocahontas.

Collins-Smith’s body was found Tuesday, June 4 at her residence outside Pocahontas.

The arrest was announced by special agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division and deputies of the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, in coordination with the Third Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Criminal charges are pending.

State Police said in a statement on Friday night that “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.”

Collin-Smith’s body was formally identified by state authorities two days after she was found. They confirmed that she was a homicide victim.

Officers responded to the scene about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, June 4.

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.

Collins-Smith’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday.

O’Donnell posted on her Facebook page this week a photograph of herself with Collins-Smith. She campaigned for the election of Collins-Smith.

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