Who is Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell?

IN APRIL 2022, NBC's Dateline will tell the story of former state Sen. Linda Collins, who was brutally murdered in 2019.

At first, authorities had trouble figuring out why someone would kill Collins, but in a shocking twist, her friend confessed to the crime and is now serving time behind bars.

Who is Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell?

Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell is known as Collins' former campaign worker and friend.

In August 2020, she made headlines after she pleaded guilty to killing the former Arkansas senator.

"I went to Linda's house, and I intentionally killed her and then hid the body," O'Donnell said in court, according to ABC News affiliate KATV in Little Rock.

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She had previously pleaded not guilty to capital murder.

However, she changed her plea after prosecutors announced that they were going to seek the death penalty.

Outside of her previous roles, no additional information is available on O'Donnell's personal life.

How many years did Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell get?

O'Donnell pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse and later pleaded "no contest" to two counts of solicitation to commit capital murder in another county, in relation to a separate murder-for-hire plot, according to ABC News.

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She was then sentenced to 40 years for the murder, 14 years for the solicitation counts, and three years for abuse of a corpse.

"Today our family has found swift justice by way of a plea deal," Collins' family said in a statement following the proceedings.

"We know that there will be some that will not be satisfied with that outcome today. And we realize that whatever punishment [O'Donnell] receives it will never be enough …. It will never bring my Grandpa's daughter back or my Mother back or our children's grandmother back. No amount of punishment will ever fill that void that [O'Donnell] made in our lives the day she killed our Mother.

"Today we find some shred of peace that Rebecca O'Donnell will be put away in prison for a very long time unable to hurt anyone else. If my Mother was here today I have no doubt that she would quote the Bible and tell us that we can find peace in God."

While a motive was never released, Collins' son believes that O'Donnell was stealing money from his mother and when she confronted her about it, she stabbed her to death.

The records of the case were sealed by the initial judge overseeing the case, leaving many to wonder why it happened, ABC notes.

However, according to the North West Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Collins' family later sued the State Police and the Randolph County sheriff's office to review the files, which later revealed that O'Donnell had sold gold and silver totaling $15,110 on three separate occasions that once were stored in Collins' house.

As of March 2022, the family was close to reaching an agreement on what materials from the investigation will be made public, the media outlet notes.

Who was Sen. Linda Collins?

Collins was known as an American businesswoman and politician who served as a Republican member of the Arkansas Senate.

Outside of politics, she was known as the owner and operator of Days Inn and Suites of Pocahontas and was also the founder of Randolph County Tourism, according to Ballotpedia.

She was previously married to Philip Smith and was the mother of two children, Butch and Heather.

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Butch was reportedly the one who found Collins' body after she was stabbed to death, an image that he said is "burned into my brain."

Her story will be told on NBC's Dateline on April 8, 2022, starting at 8pm EST, and feature interviews with her kids as well as Randolph County Sheriff Kevin Bell and state Sen. Gary Stubblefield.

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