Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell has been accused of killing Linda Collins and wrapping her body in a blanket

By Steve Helling
July 02, 2019 11:01 AM
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For friends and family of former Arkansas State Senator Linda Collins, the past month has been full of sadness — and lingering questions about how the 57-year-old died.

Collins was found dead of a gunshot wound outside of her Pocahontas, Arkansas, home on June 4. Her body had been wrapped in a blanket.

One of her best friends, 48-year-old Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, was arrested after the senator’s death. She was later charged with capital murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

“The family was shocked and saddened that someone who was supposed to be so close to Linda would possibly be involved in something this egregious, horrible and awful,” her former communications director Ken Yang tells PEOPLE. “This has been very hard for the family.”

PEOPLE has spoken with several people who knew both Collins and O’Donnell, and they all say that the women were very close. O’Donnell had helped Collins with her 2014 and 2018 campaigns, but the two women were personal friends, as well.

Rebecca O'Donnell

RELATED: Former State Senator Linda Collins-Smith Found Dead, Death Being Investigated as a Possible Murder

“They were inseparable,” says a friend of both women. “If you ever wanted to know what was going on with Linda, you could ask Becky. And vice versa. They did everything together, and they were close confidantes. They called each other ‘sisters,’ even though they weren’t blood relations.”

O’Donnell even was a witness in Collins’ contentious divorce proceedings.

“They had each others’ backs,” says the friend. “That’s what makes this so confusing. Never in a million years would I think things would end this way. It’s incomprehensible.”

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O’Donnell’s fiancé Tim Loggains believes that O’Donnell is innocent of any wrongdoing — and says that the two women had an exceptionally tight bond. “Becky worked for Linda, but Linda was a family friend,” he told Good Morning America. “She was like a sister.”

RELATED: Former State Senator Linda Collins’ Family Shares Their Anguish a Week After She Was Shot and Killed

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So what could have gone wrong?

Yang tells PEOPLE that Collins was a force to be reckoned with and was fiercely loyal to her friends. “You couldn’t buy Linda,” says Yang. “She stood up for her beliefs and she didn’t waver. She was a firebrand. But she was also a very good friend. She’d tell you like it is, but she also always kept her word. If you weren’t friends with Linda Collins, it wasn’t because of her. It was because of you. But she’d stay friends with people, even if they believed differently than her. She was very loyal.”

Police and prosecutors have successfully argued to keep the court records sealed, and neither of them have returned multiple calls for comment. A motive has not yet been disclosed.

Loggains says cops have got the wrong person in custody.

“Becky’s not capable of this,” he said. “I haven’t questioned that. Either she is the best actress in the world and a sociopath and has totally fooled me, or there’s not a chance she did this.”

O’Donnell will appear in court next month on a pretrial hearing. She has not yet entered a plea and is being held without bond. In her preliminary hearing last week, the judge ruled that O’Donnell would need a court-appointed lawyer. Court records do not reflect an attorney authorized to speak on her behalf.

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