Path 27

Family of slain ex-Arkansas lawmaker "sickened" by arrest

Path 27

The family of a former Arkansas state senator who was found dead outside of her home says they are “sickened and upset” by the thought that one of her friends could have been involved in her killing.

Authorities on Friday announced the arrest of 48-year-old Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, of Pocahontas, in connection with the killing of 57-year-old Linda Collins, whose body was found June 4 outside her home in Pocahontas, about 130 miles (210 kilometers) northeast of Little Rock.

It was not clear where O’Donnell was being held on Saturday, but jail records in Randolph County, where Pocahontas is located, do not list her as an inmate. In neighboring Lawrence County, a woman who answered the phone but declined to give her name said Saturday that “we’re not going to release any of that” information when asked about O’Donnell. The woman referred questions to Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Yates and jail administrator Debbie Burleson, who didn’t immediately reply to phone messages seeking comment.

State police spokesman Bill Sadler said in an email Saturday that no additional information is expected until Monday or Tuesday.

Authorities haven’t said why they suspect O’Donnell had a role in Collins’ killing. At a news conference Friday night, Randolph County Sheriff Kevin Bell said the investigation was at a “critical juncture and no further information will be released at this time until we are confident it will not compromise the integrity of the criminal investigation.”

Maskless GOP Rep Tells Pelosi to 'Come and Get Me' as Capitol Police Are Ordered to Arrest Those Who Don't Comply with Mandate

Phone calls Saturday to numbers listed as O’Donnell’s rang unanswered or messages weren’t returned.

Police said criminal charges are pending, but didn’t say what the charges may be or whether they were seeking any other possible suspects in the death of Collins, who went by Collins-Smith when she was in the Legislature.

“There is a probable cause hearing on Monday in regards to Becky O’Donnell,” Collins’ former communications director, Ken Yang, said Saturday. He said the family has had no contact with police since being informed of O’Donnell’s arrest.

Collins’ family issued a statement through Yang in which they said they are “sickened and upset that someone so close to Linda, would be involved in such a terrible, heartless crime. The family is very confident that the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department and the Arkansas State Police will continue to work diligently to bring justice to this case.”

Yang said Collins and O’Donnell, who goes by Becky, were friends.

“Becky had worked to help Linda in her last Senate election,” in which Collins was defeated in a re-election bid. “I had met her (O’Donnell) a couple of times, but only in passing.”

Collins’ funeral was held Saturday morning in Pocahontas and was followed by a private burial service attended only by family, Yang said.

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →


We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Path 27
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
New York City