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Two Former GOP State Senators Found Dead Days Apart

Within the span of two days, two former Republican State Senators were found dead. 

Last week, Arkansas State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith was shot and killed outside of her home in Pocahontas, about 130 miles northeast Little Rock. She died of a gunshot wound and her body was found wrapped in a blanket. Her death is being investigated as a homicide.

Collins-Smith was a Democrat before becoming a Republican.

According to the Arkansas Times, Collins-Smith had many accomplishments:

Linda accomplished much good during her lifetime.  She was a former Arkansas State Representative and former Arkansas State Senator.  In addition, she was a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association.  She was a member of the following organizations:  Gun Owners of America, Arkansas Hospitality Association, National Federation of Independent Business, Arkansas Chamber of Commerce, Randolph County Arkansas Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Arkansas Lodging Association, Lower Mississippi Delta Development Council, and the Arkansas Federation of Republican Women.  Linda was also proud to be the founder of the Randolph County Tourism Association and a supporter of the Patriots of Act 746, in Arkansas.

Her funeral is scheduled for Saturday, June 15 at 10 a.m. at Sutton Free Will Baptist Church in Pocahontas. A visitation is scheduled at the church from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 14.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he was shocked by the news of her death.

“She was a good person who served in the public arena with passion and conviction. The first lady and I extend our deepest sympathies to her family and friends during this difficult time,” Hutchinson said.

Former Oklahoma State Sen. Jonathan Nichols was found two days later dead in his home in Norman, 20 miles south of Oklahoma City. He died of a gunshot. Investigators say a gun was on the table near Nichols' body, The Oklahoman reported. Police say the case is still pending investigation, Fox News reported. 

“Investigators are currently working with the Oklahoma medical examiner’s office to determine the exact cause and manner of death,” the Norman Police Department said.

Nichols served in the State Senate from 2000 to 2012. He was most recently serving as senior policy adviser to House Speaker Charles McCall. 

"I am shocked and incredibly saddened to learn that Jonathan has passed away," McCall said in a statement. "He was a valuable member of my staff and a friend. Jonathan was a very proud man, but he served humbly."

Nicholas also served as chief of staff for former Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman and Pro Tem Mike Schulz. Before that he was appointed to serve as vice president of governmental relations at the University of Oklahoma. 

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