Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell accepted a plea deal Thursday

By Ashley Boucher
August 06, 2020 11:03 PM
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Linda Collins

The murder case of former Arkansas Sen. Linda Collins took a shocking turn this week when the woman accused of killing her changed her plea to guilty.

Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell, the politician's close friend and former employee, pled guilty to first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse as she accepted a plea deal on Thursday.

"I went to Linda's house, and I intentionally killed her and then hid the body," O'Donnell said in court on Thursday, Little Rock's ABC 7 reported.

She also pled "no contest" to two counts of solicitation to commit capital murder in another county, ABC News reported. The no contest pleas will reportedly be treated as guilty pleas, according to the outlet.

O'Donnell had previously pled not guilty to all charges against her.

O'Donnell was arrested last year on the day of Collins' funeral.

Linda Collins and Rebecca O'Donnell
| Credit: Facebook

Collins was discovered by her son, Butch Smith, last June in Pocahontas, Arkansas. She was found wrapped in a blanket, and her body was so mutilated that she could not be immediately identified.

"I was the one that found my mother's body on June 4th 2019 at her home," Butch said in a statement Thursday, according to ABC News. "She was lying face down wrapped in one of my old comforters and shoved under a tarp in her driveway. I will never not be able to see that picture burned into my brain."

While O'Donnell's motives remain unclear, Butch said that he believes she was stealing money from his mother and when Collins confronted O'Donnell, she stabbed her to death, ABC News reported. Prosecutors have alleged that Collins was killed over some unidentified financial crime.

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Collins' family said in a statement on Thursday that they had found justice and a "shred of peace."

"Today our family has found swift justice by way of a plea deal," said the statement, according to ABC News. "We know that there will be some that will not be satisfied with that outcome today. And we realize that whatever punishment [O'Donnell] receives it will never be enough .... It will never bring my Grandpa's daughter back or my Mother back or our children's grandmother back. No amount of punishment will ever fill that void that [O'Donnell] made in our lives the day she killed our Mother."

"Today we find some shred of peace that Rebecca O'Donnell will be put away in prison for a very long time unable to hurt anyone else," the statement continued. "If my Mother was here today I have no doubt that she would quote the Bible and tell us that we can find peace in God."

O'Donnell's fiancé Tim Loggains — who previously defended her, saying that she and Collins were like sisters — also issued a statement.

"Initially, for various reasons, I believed with all my heart that Becky was innocent," Loggains said, per ABC News. "No one wants to believe anyone close to them is capable of doing something so heinous."

"My heart at that time would not let me believe what I later learned to be true – that Becky murdered Linda," he continued. "That realization was one of the most difficult of my life. To accept that I lived with someone so deviant, someone who could not only take a life but the life of someone who helped her in so many ways, without any indication of the darkness in her heart, was heartbreaking."

O'Donnell is now potentially facing a total of 54 years in prison.

Defense attorney Lee Short did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

"This is good for the Collins' family, they'll be able to move on," Short reportedly told reporters Thursday.