Arkansas police confirm dead body is former state lawmaker
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Authorities in Arkansas on Thursday confirmed that a body found outside the home of a former Republican state lawmaker was hers, and police are investigating her death as a homicide.
The Arkansas State Police said the medical examiner confirmed that former state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith’s body was found outside her home Tuesday in Pocahontas, about 130 miles (210 kilometers) northeast of Little Rock.
Police did not give a cause of death, but said Wednesday that they’re investigating the case as a homicide. No arrests have been made and no suspects have been named in her death.
The Arkansas Republican Party on Tuesday said Collins-Smith was dead, but authorities had initially been unable to confirm the remains found were hers because of the condition of the body. Property records showed the home was owned by Collins-Smith and her former husband, retired Circuit Judge Philip Smith.
The couple divorced in October. They were in the midst of a court fight over properties divided following the divorce, including a motel.
State Police said they didn’t expect to make any additional statements about the case until an arrest is made. A Randolph County judge on Wednesday issued an order sealing documents and statements obtained by police during the investigation.
Police have not said when Collins-Smith was killed. Collins-Smith, previously very active on social media, last posted to her Twitter account on May 27. Her account has since been disabled. Ken Yang, her former communications director in the Senate, has said the former lawmaker’s family has asked for privacy and didn’t want to comment Thursday.
Collins-Smith served one term in the state House and was originally elected as a Democrat in 2010. But she switched parties and became a Republican in 2011, the year before the GOP won control of both chambers of the Legislature.
She was elected to the state Senate in 2014 and was one of the most conservative lawmakers in the majority-GOP chamber. She clashed frequently with GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson over the state’s Medicaid expansion and other issues, including a bathroom bill she proposed in 2017.
Collins-Smith dropped her proposal , which would have prohibited individuals from using bathrooms in government buildings that do not match their gender at birth, after it failed to advance past a Senate committee.
Collins-Smith was defeated in her bid for re-election in the 2018 Republican primary.
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