A former campaign staffer has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of former Arkansas state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, according to reports.
Arkansas State Police identified the suspect as Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, 48, of Pocahontas, Ark. They said that criminal charges were pending, but did not say whether they were seeking any other suspects in Collins’ death.
Collins-Smith, 57, was found dead at her home in Pocahontas. Police officials have released few details about the killing and they have not said how or when exactly the ex-lawmaker was killed.
A request was granted by a judge to allow prosecutors to seal documents and statements obtained by police during the probe.
Arkansas State Police have not released the connection between O’Donnell and Collin-Smith but a former communications director for the former Republican state senator told Little Rock’s KTHV-TV that O’Donnell had worked on Collins-Smith’s most recent campaign and the two were friends.
There are no further details about the circumstances of the arrest, or a possible motive, that have been made available. Arkansas police said the investigation is ongoing.
Collins served one term in the state House and was originally elected as a Democrat in 2010. She changed parties and became a Republican in 2011, the year before the GOP won control of both chambers of the Legislature.
She was elected to the state Senate in 2014 where she became known as one of the most conservative senators in the majority-GOP chamber. Last year, she lost her seat in the Republican primary.
Collins and her husband, retired Circuit Judge Philip Smith, got divorced last year and were in the middle of a legal fight over their properties, including a motel.
Her funeral is set for Saturday morning in Pocahontas. The senators two adult children and father said earlier this week that they were saddened and angered by the killing.