Suspect in Murder of Former State Senator Is 'Good Friend'

Rebecca O'Donnell's partner claims her innocence in death of Linda Collins-Smith
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2019 9:50 AM CDT
Suspect in Murder of Former State Senator Is 'Good Friend'
Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, R-Pocahontas, is seen at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., on Jan. 28, 2015.   (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)

Former two-term Arkansas state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith was killed by her friend, a former campaign aide now charged with capital murder, according to state police. Following her Friday arrest during a traffic stop, 48-year-old Rebecca O'Donnell was charged Monday with capital murder, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence in the death of Collins-Smith, who was found dead outside her Pocahontas home on June 4, per CBS News and KAIT. Prosecutor Henry Boyce says the body was in such an "advanced state of decomposition" that identification with dental records took two days. Collins-Smith regularly updated her social media accounts—which often featured O'Donnell, who's now being held without bond—but hadn't posted in the week before her body was found. Neighbors reportedly heard shots fired a day or two earlier.

O'Donnell, to be represented by a public defender, didn't speak during the 15-minute court appearance. Collins-Smith's former communications director describes the pair as "good friends" who "traveled together and did grassroots stuff," even after the state lawmaker was defeated in last year's GOP primary. O'Donnell also appeared as a witness in Collins-Smith's divorce case, while her boyfriend or fiance, Tim Loggains, served as Collins-Smith's power of attorney, per KAIT. Loggains also appeared numerous times with Collins-Smith at the state Capitol to argue for the expansion of gun rights, per the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He now tells the AP that O'Donnell is innocent. "[We] both loved Linda and tirelessly gave our time and energy to support her," he says. "We ask that people please show us mercy while the police investigate every possibility." (Read more capital murder stories.)

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