Former State Senator Linda Collins-Smith Found Dead, Death Being Investigated as a Possible Murder
The 57-year-old was reportedly found dead in her home on Tuesday with a gunshot wound
Linda Collins-Smith, a former Arkansas state senator, was found dead in her home on Tuesday. She was 57.
Collins-Smith, who switched from the Democratic party to the Republican party in 2011 during her first term in the Arkansas House, was discovered in her Pocahontas home with a gunshot wound, her former press secretary Ken Yang told KATV.
At this time, it is unclear how, when, or why Collins-Smith was killed, but Yang told the outlet that her neighbors had reportedly heard several gunshots just a day or two before her body was discovered, wrapped in some sort of blanket.
By the time authorities found Collins-Smith, they said her body had already begun to decompose, which made the identification process more difficult, according to the Ark Times.
The Randolph County Sheriff’s Department and Arkansas State Police are now investigating her death as suspicious, Region 8 News reports. Sheriff Kevin Bell also told the outlet that the public does not appear to be in danger.
Representatives at the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department and Arkansas State Police did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Shortly after the news of Collins-Smith’s death broke on Tuesday, several political figures and groups expressed their sadness on social media.
The Arkansas GOP confirmed her death on Twitter and spoke to how they would remember Collins-Smith for her “passionate voice for her people.”
“Today, we learned of the untimely death of former Senator Linda Collins-Smith,” they tweeted. “She was a passionate voice for her people and a close member of our Republican family. We are praying for her loved ones during this difficult time.”
The Democratic Party of Arkansas issued a statement, highlighting Collins-Smith’s friendly and warm demeanor.
“To so many of us, Senator Linda Collins-Smith was more than just a colleague. She was a friend and warm person,” they wrote on Twitter. “We are stunned and saddened to hear of her death. Please join us in prayer as we remember her family and her loved ones. #arpx”
Also paying tribute to Collins-Smith was Arkansas Senator Jason Rapert and Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston.
“Sad to hear of Linda Collins-Smith passing. Her family and friends and in my thoughts and prayers,” Thurston tweeted.
“The Senate is stunned and saddened to hear of the death of Sen. Linda Collins-Smith @Linda4Senate,” wrote Rapert. “She was a friend and passionate advocate. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family & friends. I pray whoever is responsible for her death is captured and brought to justice.”
Arkansas State Representative Mark Lowery also echoed their sentiments. “Such a very sad night with tonight’s news of the murder of former State Senator Linda Collins–Smith. Such a sweet lady and such a tragic loss,” he wrote.
Collins-Smith served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 2010 to 2012 and represented Randolph and Sharp counties (District 80), according to her website.
She also served as a former member of the Arkansas State Senate, where she represented District 19 after being first elected in 2014. In the primary on May 22, 2018, Collins-Smith was defeated.
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In addition to her roles in the Senate and House, the politician also served on several committees, including Revenue and Taxation; City, County, and Local; and Energy, and was the Arkansas House Chair for the American Legislative Exchange Council.
According to her Twitter bio, Collins-Smith identified as a “Christian Conservative; Pro-Life, Business, Family, Guns, Veterans, Better Education & Patriot.”