Arkansas State Police released a number of files relating to the murder of former Senator Linda Collins
Arkansas police on Tuesday released portions of the investigation into the murder of former Pocahontas Senator Linda Collins after a Pulaski County district judge ordered the day before what documents should be disclosed to the media.
The internet link to the electronic files was emailed to the media shortly after 3 p.m. on Tuesday. The files were organized into folders labeled “a” through “v”, and their thousands of files contained police reports, photos, videos, and text messages.
News outlets requested the materials in August 2020, the day after Collins’ killer Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell pleaded guilty to first degree murder and corpse abuse in exchange for a 50-year sentence. The plea agreement saves O’Donnell the death penalty in a murder trial.
The files – opened by Pulaski County district judge Chip Welch – came after Collins’ two children and his ex-husband sued the Arkansas State Police and the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office for the judge to do so bring in to review the investigation files and edit personal materials that were irrelevant to the investigation.
Collins was found stabbed to death at her home in Pocahontas on June 4, 2019. Her body was found in the driveway, wrapped in a blanket and covered with a tarpaulin.
O’Donnell, a friend of Collins and a campaign worker, was arrested less than two weeks later.
Tuesday’s file sharing spanned hundreds of social media messages, as well as emails and text exchanges; Telephone records; Investigation files; Evidence from the victim’s computers, iPad, and numerous other electronic devices; 911 audio recordings; Interview recordings; Body camera recordings of officers at the crime scene; and crime scene photos.
A cursory search of the voluminous file revealed little new information about the case that was not already publicly known.
It contained numerous pages with testimony from O’Donnell’s fellow inmates.
O’Donnell never gave a motive for the Collins assassination, and prosecutors only said that the assassination was committed for “money gain.”
The recently released files show that in 2018 O’Donnell made three trips to two different stores selling gold and silver that were once stored in Collins’ house.
Investigations conducted with LeadsOnline resulted in three O’Donnell sales – two at Memphis Gold Buyers in Memphis and one at Gold & Diamond Prospectors in Little Rock – totaling $ 15,110.
The items sold included a combination of jewelry and a variety of coins.
Phil Smith, Collins ‘ex-husband, told investigators that there were approximately $ 24,000 worth of gold and silver in Collins’ house.
“I don’t know if she told them she had it in the house,” Smith told the investigator, according to the transcript.
The couple’s gold and silver possession is mentioned in the couple’s divorce decree dated September 12, 2018, which was placed on the investigation file.
The divorce judge – Retired Pulaski County Judge Ellen Brantley – ordered Collins to share the remaining $ 24,000 worth of gold and silver with Smith equally. If Collins couldn’t find the gold and silver, she had to pay Smith $ 10,000.
The files released on Tuesday contained only the documents that Collins’ family members – their two children and Smith – could see in full.
There are numerous other files that the family and the Arkansas State Police have not yet had access or review due to their size.
Welch said in his ruling that the parties would keep the court informed of their progress in the case.
A 30-minute status conference with the attorneys will take place on February 17 at 2:00 p.m. and a half-day hearing on the release of additional public documents on March 3 at 1:30 p.m.