Pro-Trump Former Democrat State Senator Found Shot Dead at Home
Police launch murder investigation into ex-Arkansas State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith's death
Police have launched a murder investigation after former Arkansas State Senator Linda Collins-Smith, a Democrat-turned-Republican, has been found shot dead at her home in suspicious circumstances.
Collins-Smith's former press secretary, Ken Yang, confirmed her death to local media on Tuesday night and revealed the case is being investigated by police as murder.
Collins-Smith was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives as a Democrat but switched to the Republican Party eight months after taking office in 2011.
Describing herself as a "patriot" and "Christian Conservative," Collins-Smith was pro-gun, pro-life, openly criticized and challenged liberal transgender bathroom policies, and regularly posted pro-Trump posts on Twitter and reposted tweets supportive of the president.
The Arkansas State Police and Randolph County Sheriff's Department have since launched a homicide investigation into the 57-year-old's death.
According to the Daily Mail, Yang said that Collins-Smith's neighbors heard gunshots a day or two before her body was discovered around 7.15pm on Tuesday.
Her body was discovered wrapped in a blanket, according to the Arkansas Times.
Sources claimed that Collins-Smith's body had started to decompose, which made it difficult to identify.
Authorities said they do not believe the public is in danger.
Collins-Smith served a single term in the Arkansas House of Representatives.
She was elected as a Democrat but switched parties eight months after taking office in 2011.
She ran for the State Senate as a Republican in 2014.
Three years later, Collins-Smith introduced the Arkansas Physical Privacy and Safety Act, a "bathroom bill" that would have forced transgender children and adults to only use the bathroom that corresponded to the sex listed on their birth certificate.
On her Facebook page, Collin-Smith described herself as a "Conservative" and listed some of the issues she considered most important to her: "God, Family, Veterans, Guns, Patriot & Country."
As a State Senator, Collins-Smith introduced or co-sponsored multiple bills seeking to expand the places where concealed weapons could be carried, including college and university campuses, the state Capitol, other state offices and courtrooms.
She was once quoted as telling the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: "You can't be pro-gun enough in Arkansas."
She had an 87 percent rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA) for her positions on gun rights.
The mysterious death of a former state senator is shaking Arkansas's political world.— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) June 5, 2019
57-year-old Linda Collins-Smith was reportedly found dead of an apparent gunshot wound outside her home in Pocahontas, Arkansas. pic.twitter.com/zbdOaXd3Yo
She was also an avid Twitter user who regularly shared news items supportive of President Donald Trump and conservative causes.
Her final tweet, posted on May 27, promoted the June 3 Arkansas Country Music Festival.
She is survived by her two adult children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.
Collins-Smith was defeated for re-election in 2018 by Republican James Sturch, who eulogized his former rival on Twitter.
"Macy and I were sorry to hear the news of Senator Linda Collins passing," he said.
"While Senator Collins and I didn’t always agree, there is no doubt she was a passionate advocate for what she believed.
"I ask all of Senate District 19 to join me in praying for her family during this time."
Collins-Smith was married to former Circuit Court Judge Philip Smith. The couple divorced in 2018.
She was also the owner of Days Inn and Suites in Pocahontas.
Today, we learned of the untimely death of former Senator Linda Collins Smith. She was a passionate voice for her people and a close member of our Republican family. We are praying for her loved ones during this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/uOg76yd6dF— Arkansas GOP (@ARGOP) June 5, 2019
I'm saddened to learn of Linda Collins-Smith's untimely passing. This tragedy is a shock to her community and our entire state. I am praying her loved ones and all those mourning her find peace and comfort in this difficult time. We are grateful for her service to Arkansans.— Senator John Boozman (@JohnBoozman) June 5, 2019
I’m saddened to hear about the death of former State Senator Linda Collins-Smith. She always worked hard for her constituents and I ask you keep her family and her friends in your prayers as they mourn her passing.— Rep Rick Crawford (@RepRickCrawford) June 5, 2019
BREAKING:— Jan Morgan (@JanMorganMedia) June 5, 2019
State Senator, and my fear personal friend was found dead this evening in her home.
Authorities say it appears she was murdered .
Tributes poured in for Collins-Smith on social media as news broke on Tuesday, with Arkansas Lt Gov Tim Griffin saying he was "in shock."
"Linda was a friend who had a deep faith in God and passion for her state and nation. She is missed," he wrote.
The Arkansas Republican Party said Collins-Smith was a "passionate voice for her people" and a "close member of our Republican family."
Arkansas' Democratic Party also issued a statement, calling Collins-Smith "more than just a colleague."
"She was a friend and a warm person," the statement read.
"We are stunned and saddened to hear of her death."