Arkansas authorities confirm dead body found earlier this week is former GOP state lawmaker
Authorities in Arkansas confirmed on Thursday that a woman found dead outside her home this week is former Republican state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith.
Collins-Smith was found Tuesday outside her home in Pocahontas, 130 miles northeast of Little Rock, the state police and medical examiner confirmed. No cause of death was given, but police have begun a homicide investigation.
Authorities have not said when Collins-Smith was killed and no arrests have been made in her death. Authorities were unable to confirm her identity immediately following her discovery because of the condition of the body.
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Property records show the home belonged to Collins-Smith and her ex-husband, retired Circuit Judge Philip Smith.
Ken Yang, the former press secretary for Collins-Smith, told KATV on Tuesday that neighbors reported hearing gunshots a day or two before her body was discovered.
The 57-year-old lawmaker was originally elected as a Democrat to the state House in 2010. She switched parties in 2011 and represented the 19th District in Arkansas from 2014 to 2019. She was defeated in the 2018 Republican primary.
Considered one of the most conservative lawmakers in the GOP-led chamber, Collins-Smith clashed with Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson over a variety of issues. In 2017, she proposed a measure to ban people from using bathrooms in government facilities that don't match the gender they were born as. She eventually dropped the bill.
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The Arkansas GOP said Tuesday that Collins-Smith was a "passionate voice for her people and a close member of our Republican family."
The state Democratic Party tweeted that she was "was more than just a colleague. She was a friend and warm person."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.