Former state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith was found dead at her Randolph County home on Tuesday, her former press secretary told Jonesboro ABC affiliate KAIT-TV, Channel 8.
Both the Randolph County Sheriff's Department and the Arkansas State Police were at Collins-Smith's home Tuesday night. An Arkansas State Police spokesman told The Associated Press that the remains were found outside Collins-Smith's home in Pocahontas. Police say the state crime lab is determining the cause of death.
Ken Yang, her former press secretary, told Little Rock ABC affiliate KATV-TV, Channel 7, that Collins-Smith had been shot.
"According to Yang, neighbors had reportedly heard gunshots a day or two before Collins-Smith was discovered today," KATV reported. "Her body was reportedly found wrapped in some sort of blanket."
Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler declined to identify the victim and told The AP that the state medical examiner may confirm the identity of the remains later Wednesday.
In a statement, 3rd Judicial District Prosecutor Henry Boyce said the body was a woman's but that its condition prevented any immediate positive identification. A Randolph County judge granted Boyce's request for an order sealing the documents and statements obtained by police during the investigation.
County law enforcement declined to take questions during a brief news conference Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, often criticized by Collins-Smith, said he was "stunned and saddened" by her death.
"She was a good person who served in the public arena with passion and conviction," Hutchinson said. "The First Lady and I extend our deepest sympathies to her family and friends during this difficult time."
Collins-Smith, of Pocahontas, was a member of the Arkansas House from 2011 to 2013. Elected as a Democrat, she switched parties in 2011. In 2014, she ran successfully for the state Senate and served one term, which expired in January.
Collins-Smith was married to Philip Smith, a retired circuit court judge. They divorced last year.