The former Arkansas state senator was found dead in her home on June 4 with a gunshot wound

By Joelle Goldstein
June 11, 2019 07:37 PM
Linda Collins-Smith
| Credit: Linda Collins Smith/Twitter

The family of former Arkansas state senator Linda Collins is breaking their silence after she was found dead in her home last week.

In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Collins’ family said they were struggling to find words to adequately describe their heartbreak but would remember the late Republican state senator, 57, for her willingness to listen and help others in need, regardless of their political affiliation.

“We are surprised, upset, angered, and saddened by this event and are at a loss for words in describing the feelings and emotions that we are currently going through,” Collins’ family wrote. “Linda would want all of us to be strong for her during this trying time.”

“Let us honor her memory, of all the wonderful things she said and did for so many people, regardless of political views or otherwise,” they added. “She was always there to listen and to try to help where she could. She would always go above and beyond for people in need.”

On June 4, the politician, who formerly went by Linda Collins-Smith, was discovered in her Pocahontas home with a gunshot wound.

Linda Collins-Smith

It still remains unclear how, when, or why she was killed, but her former press secretary Ken Yang told KATV that her neighbors had reportedly heard several gunshots just a day or two before her body was discovered, wrapped in some sort of blanket.

The Randolph County Sheriff’s Department and Arkansas State Police have been investigating her death as suspicious and a possible murder.

“We want to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and prayers during this very difficult time,” the family continued. “We ask for your understanding in being unable to speak about the ongoing investigation involving Linda Collins.”

“We are confident that the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department and the Arkansas State Police are using all resources available to find a resolution to this investigation and put our hearts and minds at ease,” they added.

Collins’ funeral service is expected to take place this weekend, according to her family. In lieu of flowers, they are requesting that donations be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Collins switched from the Democratic party to the Republican party in 2011 during her first term in the Arkansas House.

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She 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 was defeated.

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 identified as a “Christian Conservative; Pro-Life, Business, Family, Guns, Veterans, Better Education & Patriot.”

Just two days after her passing, another former Republican state senator, Jonathan Nichols, was found dead in his Norman, Oklahoma home from an apparent gunshot.

Jonathan Nichols

Authorities found Nichols, 53, who served as an Oklahoma state senator for 12 years, after receiving a call that somebody had been shot inside of the home.

The case also currently remains under investigation by Norman Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division and the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office, who are working to determine Nichols’ cause and manner of death.