LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The family of a former Arkansas lawmaker whose body was found at her home last week said Tuesday they're saddened and angered by her death, and are confident authorities are using all their resources to solve her killing.
The statement from Collins' two adult children and her father was released as dozens of Arkansas lawmakers and others gathered at the state Capitol on Tuesday to remember former state Sen. Linda Collins, whose death is being investigated as a homicide. The body of Collins, who went by Collins-Smith in the Legislature, was found June 4 outside her home in Pocahontas, about 130 miles northeast of Little Rock.
Police have not named a suspect or announced an arrest in Collins' death.
"As much as we want to speak to you, know that we also want (and need) to protect the integrity of this investigation," the family's statement said. "We are surprised, upset, angered, and saddened by this event and are at a loss for words in describing the feeling and emotions we are currently going through."
Collins and her former husband, retired Circuit Judge Philip Smith, divorced last year. They were in the middle of a court fight over dividing up their properties following the split that included a motel.
Collins-Smith served one term in the state House and was originally elected as a Democrat in 2010. But she switched parties and became a Republican in 2011, the year before the GOP won control of both chambers of the Legislature. She was elected to the state Senate in 2014 and was one of the most conservative lawmakers in the majority-GOP chamber. She lost re-election in the Republican primary last year.
"She was a Christian and she wasn't afraid to ruffle feathers," Republican Sen. Missy Irvin said at Tuesday's event.
Collins' funeral is scheduled for Saturday morning in Pocahontas.
Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo