Two former state Republican senators found shot dead in Arkansas and Oklahoma within days
While former Oklahoma state senator Jonathan Nichols, 53, was found dead on Thursday night, Linda Collins-Smith was found dead at her residence on Tuesday
A former state senator was found dead inside his house in Oklahoma, just two days after a similar incident was reported from Arkansas.
According to a press release from Norman Police Department, former Oklahoma state senator Jonathan Nichols was found dead on Thursday night inside his Norman residence from an apparent gunshot. The 53-year-old, who served as a Republican senator for 12 years, was found by authorities after they responded to a call reporting somebody had been shot inside the residence, People reports.
The press release states that NPD’s Criminal Investigations Division and the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office are working together as they conduct an investigation to determine the cause and manner of Nichols' death. The former lawmaker is survived by his wife Talitha and their two daughters.
This comes just two days after former Arkansas state senator Linda Collins-Smith, another Republican, was found dead at her residence.
During her first term in the Arkansas House in 2011, Collins-Smith had switched from the Democratic party to the Republican party. Her former press secretary Ken Yang told KATV she was discovered Tuesday in her Pocahontas home with a gunshot wound.
While investigators are trying to determine why Collins-Smith was murdered, Yang said nearby residents had heard multiple gunshots just a day or two before her body was discovered wrapped in a blanket.
According to Region 8 News, the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department and Arkansas State Police are investigating her death as suspicious. However, Sheriff Kevin Bell dismissed any apparent danger to the public.
Nichols, who served as a state senator from 2000-2012, later went on to hold staff positions in the state House, Senate, and the University of Oklahoma, per KOCO News 5.
According to NonDoc, he was working as a senior policy advisor for House Speaker Charles McCall at the time of his untimely death.
McCall released a statement to the local outlet in remembrance of Nichols, saying he was “proud but humble” and a “valuable” staff member and friend.
“I am shocked and incredibly saddened to learn that Jonathan has passed away. He was a valuable member of my staff and a friend. Jonathan was a very proud man, but he served humbly,” McCall said. “He was proud of his family and loved them deeply, he was proud of Norman and he was proud of Oklahoma.”
Republican State Senator Rob Standridge, who currently represents Nichols' old district, also paid a tribute in the wake of his passing.
“Senator Jonathan Nichols was the most brilliant political, legal mind in the Oklahoma State Legislature, and worked tirelessly as a senator and for years on staff to help guide our state forward,” Standridge wrote. “Jonathan was a great friend, a mentor, a confidant, and was always there for me in whatever situation I was in.”
“From political advice to a sounding board for each other’s challenges in life, my friendship with Jonathan touched every aspect of my life, and I will miss him dearly,” he continued. “Talitha and their daughters are in our prayers, and we ask all those in Senate District 15 and in the state to say a prayer of thanks for Senator Nichols’ service and a prayer of support for his grieving family,” Standridge added.