Former Republican state Senator Linda Collins-Smith of Pocahontas, Arkansas has been found dead in her home due to a gunshot wound, according to reports.
Her former press secretary Ken Yang confirmed the news. "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," Arkansas GOP tweeted on Wednesday. She was 57 years old.
According to the Arkansas Times, the police did not confirm the report initially and said that they were investigating a death at a home near Pocahontas. The report also said that the body had decomposed. Yang also reportedly said that the senator's death is being investigated as a homicide. The neighbors are said to have heard some shots fired approximately two days before the body was found. It was said to have been wrapped in a blanket-like material. The death was confirmed by the authorities at 7:15 pm, reports say.
Collins-Smith was a Republican member of the Arkansas State Senate from Pocahontas in Randolph County in northeastern Arkansas from 2015-2019. Prior to her Senate service, Collins-Smith was a one-term member from 2011 to 2013 of the Arkansas House of Representatives for District 80. Though elected as a Democrat, she switched parties in August 2011, eight months after taking office.
She was also instrumental in the introduction of the controversial Senate Bill 774, the Arkansas Physical Privacy and Safety Act which would limit transgender individuals in the use of government facilities that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates. She had said at the time in 2017, "No child should have to worry that their school might change its policy to force them to shower or undress in front of a member of the opposite sex as has been the case around the country," she said.
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