Woman who was arrested over killing of former Arkansas senator worked on campaign, officials say

Chris Riotta

A woman has been arrested in connection with the killing of a former Arkansas state senator.

Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, 48, was detained on Friday night by Randolph County sheriff’s deputies in connection with the death of Linda Collins-Smith. Officials said criminal charges were pending.

The 57-year-old former politician was found dead outsider her home in Pocahantas, Arkansas on 4 June.

Ken Yang, a former communications director for Ms Collins-Smith, said Ms O’Donnell had worked on the former lawmaker’s most recent campaign and that the two were friends.

Mr Yang said the family did not have an immediate comment on the arrest but may issue a statement.

Ms Collins-Smith served one term in the state House and was originally elected as a Democrat in 2010.

But she switched 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 and was one of the most conservative lawmakers in the majority-GOP chamber.

She lost re-election in the Republican primary last year. Ms Collins-Smith and her husband, retired Circuit Judge Philip Smith, divorced last year and were in the middle of a legal fight over their properties, including a motel.

Authorities have released few details about Ms Collins-Smith's killing and have not said how or when the former lawmaker was killed.

A judge last week granted a request by prosecutors to seal documents and statements obtained by police during the investigation.

Ms Collins-Smith was active on social media but her last tweet was posted in late May.

AP contributed to this report