Former Staffer Charged With State Senator’s Murder

Former Staffer Charged With State Senator’s Murder

Former Staffer Charged With State Senator’s Murder

A couple of weeks ago, two former state senators – Linda Collins-Smith of Arkansas and Jonathan Nichols of Oklahoma – were both found dead. Collins-Smith’s death was declared a homicide.

Linda Collins-Smith’s former campaign staffer has now been charged with capital murder.

Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, 48, was also charged Monday with abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence and ordered held without bond. She was arrested Friday in connection with Collins-Smith’s death.”

The former 57-year-old lawmaker was found dead outside her own home in Pocahontas, around 130 miles northeast of Little Rock, on June 4.”

But beyond those basic facts, most elements of the case remain undisclosed by authorities. It’s not clear when or how officials believe she died or what O’Donnell’s motive may have been. Further clouding the case, a judge sided with prosecutors and ordered police documents sealed. Prosecutors had argued the files could prejudice public opinion prior to a trial and also stressed the release of the information at the current time could harm the ongoing investigation into Collins-Smith’s death.”

A former Collins-Smith spokesperson described the relationship between the victim and O’Donnell as that of two friends. Court documents revealed O’Donnell was a witness in Collins-Smith’s divorce proceedings from retired Circuit Judge Philip Smith last year.”

With the police documents sealed, there’s very little for the media or the public to go on in regards to motive. But O’Donnell’s arrest does disconnect Collins-Smith’s murder from Nichols’s death.

Currently, there is silence around the death of Jonathan Nichols – the only statement from the local police department was back on June 6th, when they confirmed that Nichols died from a “gunshot wound.” The only thing they have said since is that the investigation is “ongoing.”

Does the silence mean that Nichols committed suicide? We don’t know. We only know that the police have not released any information about the case, including looking for persons of interests, suspects, or motive. It may be that the timing of the discovery of Collins-Smith’s murder and Nichols’s death is simply coincidence, and the strangeness of having two former state senators’ deaths in the news – one clearly a homicide – into wild conspiracy theory territory and caught the eye of national outlets, as nearly every article about Collins-Smith also mentions Nichols.

The lack of conspiracy doesn’t make these deaths any less tragic or sad for their families and loved ones. Hopefully the Norman, Oklahoma police department will see fit to provide an update to Jonathan Nichols’s death soon, and lay speculation to rest.

Featured image via Pixabay, Pixabay license

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