Police in Arkansas are investigating the death of a former state senator as a homicide—but a judge has blocked the release of key information in the case, including law enforcement reports. Former press secretary Ken Yang tells KATV that Linda Collins-Smith, 57, was found dead from a gunshot wound at her home in the city of Pocahontas. He says neighbors heard shots a day or two before the body was discovered Tuesday. Police say officers were called to the home after somebody "familiar with the person who resided at the home" found the body outside the residence, NBC reports. Yang says he is "in shock" after the death. He says Collins-Smith, who usually updated her social media accounts daily, stopped posting a week before the body was found.
Collins-Smith, a Republican, served two terms in the state Senate but was defeated in last year's GOP primary and left office in January. Court documents filed Wednesday confirmed that police are investigating the death, but police declined to say whether an arrest had been made and Circuit Judge Harold S. Erwin issued a gag order preventing the release of more information, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports. Prosecutors said releasing documents like medical reports "could hamper the ability of the court to impanel a fair and impartial jury." The Gazette reports that records show that the home was co-owned by her ex-husband, retired judge Philip Smith, and that there were ongoing disputes over money and property after a 2017 divorce observers described as bitter. (Read more Arkansas stories.)