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POCAHONTAS, Ark. – Former Arkansas State Senator Linda Collins-Smith was found dead at her home this evening in Randolph County. Sources say it was not of natural causes.
A law enforcement source confirmed the news to NEA Report late Tuesday around 7:15 PM.
At 7:25 PM, we learned information from a neighbor who said Collins-Smith was killed by gunshot. At 7:30 PM, our law enforcement source confirmed to us that it appeared this was not possible to be suicide.
7:50 PM UPDATE: We are told neighbors have been locking their doors and staying inside, possibly at the instruction of local law enforcement. Another source also told me Federal investigators are on the way from Little Rock.
9:10 PM: A statement from Bill Sadler was released after The Jonesboro Sun inquired. It reads as follows:
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police are in Randolph County at the scene of a residence where human remains have been discovered. At this hour I have no direct or indirect information that might confirm the death of an individual you’ve identified. – Bill Sadler, ASP
This seems to confirm that state police are handling the investigation. In the past, murder cases have been handed off to ASP by the Randolph County sheriff.
10:00 PM: Ark Times says Ken Yang, who once campaigned for Collins-Smith, told KATV neighbors had heard gunshots at least a day before Collins-Smith was found. Her body was found wrapped in a blanket, tarp, or something else, based on different sources.
State police also told Ark Times the body was decomposed to the extent they had not been able to identify it.
One source told me the body had been outside for several days.
11 PM: Forensic experts planned to travel this evening from Little Rock to investigate the scene, a veteran journalist informed me.
Collins-Smith was incredibly active on social media but her activity ended on May 28 at 2:29 PM. It was the last time she shared a post on Facebook.
8:30 AM, Wednesday: Arkansas State Police released this statement to NEA Report:
The Arkansas State Police was contacted late yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, June 5, 2019), and requested to provide investigative assistance at a residence in Pocahontas (Randolph County). The location was identified as 4023 Arkansas Highway 90(West).
Special Agents of the department’s Criminal Investigation Division were met at the location by Randolph County Sheriff’s Department personnel who reported individuals, familiar with the person who resided at the home, had discovered human remains outside the home.
It will be later today before the state medical examiner may be able to confirm with certainty the identity of the human remains.
A manner and cause of death will be determined by the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory.
The Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division has been requested by the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department to be the lead investigative agency in what is currently being handled as a homicide investigation.
No further statements by this department will be made until additional facts in the case can be confirmed.
Bill Sadler, ASP PIO
11 AM Wednesday: A press conference by the Randolph County sheriff is being discussed but has not been scheduled as of yet. It’s unlikely we will see one until the lab ID’s the body.
12:30 PM Wednesday: I’ve got a request for call back in with the sheriff. The sheriff told a Sun reporter the press conference had been canceled. An employee told me at 11 AM there wasn’t a conference scheduled.
1:15 PM Wednesday: A press release from Prosecutor Henry Boyce said a gag order had been issued by the court preventing anyone in the aforementioned offices from releasing information via leak (legally).
On Tuesday, June 4, 2019, the dead body of a female was discovered at the residence of former Arkansas State Senator Linda Collins-Smith. The condition of the body prevented any immediate positive identification. The Randolph County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene at around 5:45 p.m. and immediately began securing the crime scene. The Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Unit was dispatched to the scene along with forensic examiners from the Arkansas State Crime Lab in Little Rock.
The body has been sent for autopsy to determine positive identity and cause of death.
Third Judicial District Circuit Judge Harold Erwin has issued an Order sealing the documents and statements obtained by police during the pendency of this investigationHenry Boyce
1:30 PM Wednesday – A press conference was hosted by Randolph County Sheriff Kevin Bell, along with Arkansas State Police Lt. Brant Tosh standing nearby. The sheriff said he was going to read a brief statement and not take any questions.
Bell thanked the media for cooperation along with the Arkansas State Police. He also thanked the Arkansas State Crime Lab.
“On Tuesday, June 4, 2019, the dead body of a female was discovered at the residence of former Arkansas State Senator Linda Collins-Smith. The condition of the body prevented any immediate identification. The Randolph County Sheriff’s Department responded at 5:45 PM and immediately began securing the crime scene.” – Sheriff Kevin Bell
Bell said, as we’ve previously reported, the body had been sent for an autopsy to determine identification and cause of death. Finally, Bell mentioned Third Judicial District Judge Harold Erwin had signed off on the gag order above.
As Bell departed the room, one reporter asked about possible suspects but the question was ignored.
1 PM Thursday:
State police confirmed the body was Linda Collins Smith.
The Arkansas State Police has received confirmation this morning from the state medical examiner that the remains discovered at a homicide scene in Randolph County late Tuesday (June 4, 2019) are those of former state senator, Linda Collins-Smith.
Special Agents of the state police Criminal Investigation Division along with deputies of the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department are continuing their work related to the case.
At this juncture in the investigation, the Arkansas State Police does not anticipate any further statements related to the case until an arrest may occur.
Collins-Smith (Republican), was a former member of the Arkansas State Senate, representing District 19. Collins-Smith was defeated in the primary on May 22, 2018. She was first elected in 2014.