Former Ark. lawmaker’s family saddened, angered by her death

ASP investigating homicide at former state senator’s home

RANDOLPH COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - Linda Collins’ family has broken their silence about her death, releasing a statement through their spokesperson at an event Tuesday morning at the state Capitol in Little Rock.

Family spokesperson and longtime aide to Collins, Ken Yang, read the following statement at an event honoring Linda Collins at the state capitol:

We want to thank everyone for the out pouring of love and prayers during this very difficult time. We ask for your understanding in being unable to speak about the ongoing investigation involving Linda Collins. As much as we want to speak to you, know that we also want (and need) to protect the integrity of this investigation. 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. 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. 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. 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. At this time the family is not taking questions in regard to the investigation proceedings. The funeral arrangements have been made readily available via the website located at: https://www.fearsfamilyfuneralhome.com/obituary/linda-collins or on their Facebook page: Fears Family Funeral Home.
Family statement read by Ken Yang

Dozens of Arkansas lawmakers and others gathered at the state capitol to remember the former state senator, whose death is being investigated as a homicide.

On Thursday, June 7, Arkansas State Police confirmed the remains discovered were those of former State Senator Linda Collins.

Her body was discovered outside the home, located at 4023 Arkansas Highway 90 West, late Tuesday afternoon, according to Bill Sadler, public information officer for ASP.

The Randolph County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene, then contacted ASP’s Criminal Investigation Division to assist.

Randolph County Sheriff Kevin Bell held a press conference on June 6 saying, “The dead body of a female was discovered at the residence of former Arkansas State Senator Linda Collins-Smith," Bell said. "The condition of the body prevented any immediate positive identification.”

The sheriff’s office asked that ASP be the “lead investigative agency in what is currently being handled as a homicide investigation.”

Sheriff Kevin Bell said that they do not believe the public is in danger.

Police have not named a suspect or announced an arrest in Collins’ death.

Prosecuting Attorney Henry H. Boyce stated in a release on June 5, that no information about the case while it is under investigation.

“Third Judicial District Court Judge Harold Erwin issued an order sealing the documents and statements obtained by police during the pendency of this investigation.”
Prosecuting Attorney Henry H. Boyce

Talk Business & Politics stated there were “conflicting reports of where her body was found and how long she may have been deceased.”

Independence County Judge Robert Griffin told Region 8 News that he was fond of Collins.

“I’ve become friends with many legislators," Griffin said. "It’s difficult when you lose someone that’s been close to you and close working with you on behalf of the citizens and it’s just, I mean, it’s a horrendous feeling.”

Friends of the former state senator said she was a Christian who genuinely cared about her community and the people who lived there.

“Stuff like this doesn’t happen here, you know,” Randolph County resident Samantha Ricker said. “We’re still a safe community. Hopefully, we can catch the person.”

Neighbors said the area where Collins-Smith lived was a quiet one.

Several lawmakers and political operatives from both sides of the aisle sent their condolences.

"I’m both stunned and saddened by the death of former State Senator Linda Collins-Smith. She was a good person who served in the public arena with passion and conviction. The First Lady and I extend our deepest sympathies to her family and friends during this difficult time.”
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson

Collins was first elected to the Senate in 2014.

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

In May 2018, she was defeated for re-election in the GOP primary.

Randolph Co. Sheriff Kevin Bell remarks on current status of homicide investigation
Friends react to former State Senator's death
Death investigation ongoing involving former state senator

Funeral services for Collins-Smith were announced Saturday by the Fears Family Funeral Home in Pocahontas.

The funeral is set for at 10 a.m. June 15 at Sutton Free Will Baptist Church, 5421 Highway 62 West in Pocahontas, while visitation will be held June 14 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the church.

A private family burial will follow after the funeral service.

Region 8 News will continue to track this story and update it when new information becomes available.

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