Woman pleads guilty in murder of former Arkansas state senator

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Rebecca O’Donnell


POCAHONTAS, Ark.- Rebecca O’Donnell was sentenced to more than 50 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections in the murder of former State Senator Linda Collins.

According to Region 8 News, O’Donnell admitted in court to going to Collins’ home, intentionally killing her and hiding the body.

Collins was stabbed, according to KAIT.

When police found Collins’ body, they could not immediately confirm her identity.

According to Region 8 News, O’Donnell answered the judge’s questions calmly with no display of emotion.

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Collins and O’Donnell had been close friends and were seen together in photographs on social media.

O’Donnell worked with Collins on her last political campaign and was a witness in Collins’ divorce from her ex-husband.

Collins’ family released multiple statements Thursday in response to O’Donnell pleading guilty:

Statement from Daughter of Linda Collins:

“Today Rebecca O’Donnell pleaded guilty to killing my mother, to abuse of my mother’s body and no contest of solicitation to commit capital murder. Today our family has found swift justice by way of a plea deal.

We know that there will be some who are not satisfied with the outcome today.  We realize that no matter what punishment Rebecca O’Donnell receives, it will never be enough. It will never bring my grandpas daughter back, or our mother back, or our children’s grandmother back. No amount of punishment will ever fill that void that Rebecca O’Donnell made in our lives the day she killed our mother. Today we find some shred of peace that Rebecca O’Donnell will be put away in prison for a very long time, unable to hurt anyone else.

If Mom was here today, I have no doubt that she would quote the Bible and tell us that we can find peace in God.  We know one day Rebecca O’Donnell will have to answer for her sins before the judgment seat of Christ. In Romans Chapter 12 Verse 19 it says, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” While our efforts of seeking justice on Earth may fall short in our eyes, it is guaranteed by God that justice will be fully served swiftly and justly when we are called to answer for our sins before Him.

Thank you all again for your thoughts and prayers for our family during this case. We want to again thank the Arkansas State Police and the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department for their hard work.  Without your efforts, this case would not have been solved so quickly but also for keeping our families safety and privacy a priority as well.”

Statement from Son of Linda Collins:

“I am Butch Smith, Linda’s oldest child. Some of you may remember me from managing the hotels or out with mom at political events over the years. I would like to say that what happened to my mother was an awful deed, carried out of hate, jealousy, and greed. I believe that Rebecca O’Donnell was stealing money from my mother and when my mother confronted her about it, she snapped and stabbed my mother to death in a fit of rage and perceived self-perseverance (to try to prevent herself from going to jail). As some news agencies have reported, I did find my mother’s body on June 4th at her home. She was lying face down, wrapped in one of my old comforters and shoved underneath a tarp in her driveway. I will never not be able to see that picture burned into my brain. The smell of the dead body laying outside wrapped up and under a tarp for approximately a week in a hot Arkansas summer was nausea inducing in and of itself. The swarm of flies that flew out and surrounded me. The sight of her white blonde hair moving because of the number of maggots crawling on her. The last memory of her that I have was of me making that 911 call and trying not to vomit all over at the sight and smell of my mother’s body.

My thought on the conclusion of this case is that none of the punishments allowed per Arkansas state law will come close to what I feel is right and equal punishment for her. The plea deal was not what my first choice would have been but at least we do have a guaranteed amount of time that she will be imprisoned for and we will have the ability as the victim’s family to argue against her release at her parole hearings.

I would personally like to thank the Lead Investigator, Creston Hutton, of the Arkansas State Police, the Randolph County Sheriff, Kevin Bell and everyone else that worked their butts off to make sure that no stone was unturned, that no piece of evidence was overlooked, and that the safety, security, and privacy of my family were first and foremost during the entire investigation. Thank you all for the well wishes, the happy thoughts, the amazing stories that you all have shared. Thank you.”


POCAHONTAS, Ark. (KAIT)- A woman accused of killing former State Senator Linda Collins pleaded guilty Thursday.

Rebecca O’Donnell previously pleaded not guilty to capital murder in Collins’ death.

According to content partner KAIT Region 8 News, during a court hearing at the Randolph County Courthouse on Thursday, O’Donnell changed her plea to guilty of first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse. She also pleaded “no contest” to two counts of solicitation to commit capital murder in the Jackson County case. The plea will be treated as a guilty plea.

Collins’ body was found at her home on June 4, 2019.

O’Donnell was arrested in connection to Collins’ murder on June 14, 2019.

To read more from KAIT Region 8 News, click here.


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