Homicide investigation underway after former state senator’s death

Local News

A former state senator is dead and authorities have launched a homicide investigation outside of her Pocahontas home.

Sources have confirmed Linda Collins-Smith was found shot to death on Tuesday. Crime scene tape surrounded her home less than 24 hours later.

On Wednesday, state police and Randolph County investigators stopped short of confirming that the victim was, in fact, Collins-Smith, and they remained tight-lipped about the homicide investigation. Sheriff Kevin Bell indicated the victim was not recognizable and said the victim’s identity would not be confirmed until after the body was sent to the state crime lab.

Other details remained under lock and key after a judge’s order Wednesday.

“Third Judicial District Circuit Judge Harold Irwin has issued an order sealing documents and statements ordered or obtained by the police during this investigation,” Bell said while reading a prepared statement after calling a press conference Wednesday that lasted less than two minutes.

Court documents reveal Collins-Smith was in the process of divorcing her husband, retired judge Phillip Smith. A hearing in that case was scheduled later this month and, according to documented testimony, the couple was at odds over money after selling a local hotel for more than a million dollars.

The ex-lawmaker’s former spokesperson tells us the divorce quote “was not pleasant”. He also says Collins-Smith remained active on social media but appeared to go silent more than a week ago.

An old campaign sign was visible in the back garage over her home along Highway 90, just beyond the police tape. It marked a time when constituents looked to Collins-Smith for answers. Now, they look elsewhere for answers in her death.

“This is all the information we can give you at this point,” Sheriff Bell said Wednesday.

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