POCAHONTAS, Ark. – A law enforcement source told NEA Report over the weekend that the scene of the murder of a former State Senator was “bleached” in an effort to clean up and dispose of any evidence.
It could help explain one of the charges the accused is facing.
It’s not usual protocol for forensic scientists in Arkansas to travel from the State Crime Lab in Little Rock to a physical crime scene’s location. With limited resources in Arkansas, forensic experts must manage their time most efficiently. But when Linda Collins was found murdered at her home on June 4, the State Crime Lab’s experts traveled to rural Randolph County to begin processing the scene.
An effort had been made to clean up the scene with bleach, NEA Report was told. This occurred sometime between Collins’ death and when her body was found by family on June 4. Unlike other cleaning agents, bleach interferes with the forensic luminol test used to detect trace blood stains (source).
Collins was murdered in her home. She apparently suffered several injuries during the crime. Although we had previously been told by anonymous law enforcement sources that she was shot, a now-deleted report from Arkansas Times indicated Collins was stabbed to death, citing the probable cause affidavit. The exact extent of her injuries remain unknown to the public but informed sources have described it as unusually brutal.
Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, 48, of Pocahontas, remains the only person arrested in the case. Her charges are capital murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence. The now-retracted Times story said security footage from Collins’ home was recovered from cloud storage and is key in the State’s case against O’Donnell. Exactly what the video evidence showed remains unconfirmed.
NEA Report has previously reported on separate video evidence from the local Walmart Super-center being turned over to authorities. A managerial source told a reporter video showed O’Donnell buying a significant amount of bleach during the time frame before Collins was found but after she would have been killed. Law enforcement has not confirmed this either on or off-the-record.
O’Donnell’s fiance, Tim Loggains, has maintained her innocence. He told ABC News she’s “not capable of this.” Loggains held power of attorney over Collins and along with O’Donnell, was a long-time family friend of the deceased state politician.
Despite major media giving Loggains a platform to claim police are making mistakes, information in the case has remained under seal, thanks to Third Judicial District Prosecutor Henry Boyce. However, the Arkansas Times claimed Boyce had leaked the PC affidavit to them before they retracted their story. Boyce denied leaking it and admitted it would have been a violation of the gag order if he had done so. The Arkansas Times has not explained how it acquired the affidavit.
Boyce is currently in violation of Freedom of Information Act law by refusing to release records or even his press statements to NEA Report. Despite multiple requests, Boyce – up for election as a judge – sees public records as his to withhold or release and appears to have been angered by our reporting on his previous ethical issues. NEA Report has referred the matter to legal counsel.
(2) The FOIA should be broadly construed in favor of disclosure: under the rules of evidence now in effect, there is no exception for the attorney-client privilege concerning state-agency records in the possession of its attorney, and such records are subject to public disclosure. Scott v. Smith, 292 Ark. 174, 728 S.W.2d 515 (1987).
Further reading: Detecting Evidence After Bleaching