Friend of slain ex-Arkansas state senator charged with murder


A friend of slain former Arkansas state senator Linda Collins-Smith has been charged with murder and appeared in court Monday morning.

Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, 48 of Pocahontas, was charged with capital murder, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence in the death of Collins-Smith.

Randolph County Sheriff’s office and Arkansas State Police arrested O’Donnell Friday, and she was ordered held without bond during her brief court appearance Friday. O’Donnell, who did not speak, appeared with a public defender, who filed an affidavit of indigency.

Documents in the case have been sealed and police have released few details surrounding the circumstances of Collins-Smith’s death, stating on Saturday night they were at a “critical juncture” and no further information would be revealed until they were confident the integrity of the case wouldn’t be compromised.

Collins-Smith was found dead outside her home on June 4. Due to the state of composition of Collins-Smith’s body, it took dental records to identify the remains.

Ken Yang, who used to be Collins-Smith’s communications director told CBS News that two had worked together on Collins-Smith’s 2014 campaign and Yang said that O’Donnell was a good friend to Collins-Smith.

“They traveled together and did grassroots stuff, even after Linda lost her re-election,” Yang said.

In a statement released by Collins-Smith’s family, they said they are, “are sickened and upset that someone so close to Linda would be involved in such a heartless crime.