Law enforcement officials on Thursday formally identified remains found Tuesday near Pocahontas as those former Arkansas State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, and confirmed that she was a homicide victim.
The State Medical Examiner made the confirmation after receiving remains from the crime scene in Randolph County.
Arkansas State Police said agents with its Criminal Investigation Division, along with deputies of the Randolph County Sheriff's Office, are continuing their work related to the case.
A State Police spokesman said Thursday that the agency does not anticipate any further statements related to the case until an arrest may occur.
The body of Collins-Smith, 57, was discovered at her home. She appeared to have suffered a gunshot wound.
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 was 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.
Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, a Magnolia native, issued a statement via Twitter. He presides over the State Senate.
“I am in shock over the news of Sen. Linda Collins-Smith’s death. I am heartbroken for her family and friends as they grieve, and my thoughts and prayers are with them during this tragic time. Linda was a friend who had a deep faith in God and passion for her state and nation. She is missed,” Griffin said.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson also issued a statement.
“I’m both stunned and saddened by the death of former State Senator Linda Collins-Smith. She was a good person who served in the public arena with passion and conviction. The First Lady and I extend our deepest sympathies to her family and friends during this difficult time.”