Woman arrested in connection to killing of former Arkansas state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith

PHOTO: In this Jan. 28, 2015 file photo, Sen. Linda Collins-Smith speaks at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark.PlayDanny Johnston/AP, FILE
WATCH Murder of former Arkansas state senator raises questions

Authorities in Arkansas arrested a woman on Friday in connection to the murder of former state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, who was found dead at her home last week.

Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, 48, of Pocahontas, was arrested Friday, Arkansas State Police said in a statement.

Criminal charges were still pending, police said.

Collins-Smith was found dead at her home in Pocahontas, about 130 miles northeast of the state’s capital, Little Rock, on June 4, the Associated Press reported.

PHOTO: Ken Yang, former communications director for former state Sen. Linda Collins, speaks at an event remembering Collins at the state Capitol, June 11, 2019, in Little Rock, Ark. Andrew Demillo/AP, FILE
Ken Yang, former communications director for former state Sen. Linda Collins, speaks at an event remembering Collins at the state Capitol, June 11, 2019, in Little Rock, Ark.

At the time, Collins-Smith’s former press secretary Ken Yang told Little Rock ABC affiliate KATV that she had been shot to death and that neighbors had reportedly heard gunshots a day or two before she was found. Her body was reportedly wrapped in a blanket.

Yang released a statement on behalf of Collins-Smith's family after the arrest.

"This evening our family received news that an arrest was made in connection to the ongoing investigation," the statement said. "We are sickened and upset that someone so close to Linda, would be involved in such a terrible, heartless crime. The family is very 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."

Police said that since the investigation "is presently at a critical juncture," no further information would be provided until "authorities are confident it will not compromise the integrity of the criminal case."

"I’m both stunned and saddened by the death of former State Senator Linda Collins-Smith,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson wrote on Twitter last week. "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."