Former Campaign Staffer Charged With Murder of Ex-Arkansas State Senator Linda Collins-Smith

June 18, 2019 Updated: June 18, 2019

A former campaign staffer who was arrested last week in connection to the shooting death of former Arkansas State Senator Linda Collins-Smith has been charged with capital murder.

A judge found probable cause to charge Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, 48, with the murder charge as well as abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence during a court hearing on June 17, reported WBTV. She is also being held without bond.

The news about O’Donnell’s charges was confirmed by Collins-Smith’s former press secretary, Ken Yang.

“Rebecca O’Donnell will face charges of capital murder, abuse of a corpse, and tampering in the murder case of former State Senator Linda Collins. No bond has been set,” Yang wrote on Twitter.

Collins-Smith’s family did not release a statement after the hearing.

O’Donnell was arrested on June 14 in connection to Collins-Smith’s death, according to a police statement. The 57-year-old was found shot dead and wrapped up in a blanket inside her home in Randolph County on June 4, KAIT reported. At the time Yang told KATV that neighbors reportedly heard gunshots a day or two before the body was found.

Authorities have not released the connection between O’Donnell and Collins-Smith but, according to Yang, O’Donnell had worked on the former state senator’s most recent campaign and the pair were friends, reported KTHV-TV.

Police said the investigation is currently ongoing and they would not release further details in order to not comprise the integrity of the case.

Collins-Smith’s family released a statement following the arrest on June 14.

“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 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 statement said.

The former Arkansas lawmaker, who was a Democrat who later changed to the Republican party, served in the state House of Representatives from 2010 before becoming a state senator. She was defeated in the 2018 election.

According to her official website, Collins-Smith was a businesswoman, an entrepreneur, and a community leader.

“She is a tireless advocate for conservative principles and traditional values. She believes in limited government, lower taxes, and ending burdensome regulations. She stands for a child’s right to life from conception, for religious freedom, for our Second Amendment rights, for individual liberty, and for greater personal responsibility,” it states.

“She is a lifetime member of the NRA and founding member of the Friends of the NRA in Hardy. Linda grew up in the rural Arkansas Ozarks. She knows what it is like to carry water from the spring and cut her own firewood. Her background taught her the value of hard work, and the blessing of living in a land where everyone, from the poor country girl to the inner city street kid, had the opportunity to achieve their dreams through industry and determination. She has dedicated herself to the cause of restoring those opportunities to our children and grandchildren.”

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan
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