Just Because It's Trending Doesn't Mean It's True
Hoax Alert

Fake News: FBI Did NOT Reveal Murdered Arkansas Senator Planned To Expose Child Pornography, Child Sex Trafficking Syndicate

  • by: Alan Duke
  • (Fri, 12 Jul 2019 20:23:44 Z)

Did the FBI reveal that murdered former Arkansas Senator Linda Collins-Smith planned to expose a child pornography and child sex trafficking syndicate? No, that's not true: It is a false claim made up by a fake news site that is notorious for attributing non-existent FBI sources in untrue conspiracy stories. The FBI and Arkansas State Police denied to Lead Stories that there was a child sex trafficking probe relating to the murder case. Prosecutors have charged an Arkansas woman, who was a friend and political supporter of the Collins-Smith, with the killing. As Lead Stories has confirmed in a previous story, there is no evidence that she had collected any evidence of a child trafficking ring before her apparent murder.

The story originated from an article published on July 9, 2019 by TruePundit.com titled "FBI Reveals Murdered Arkansas Senator Planned to Expose Child Pornography, Child Sex Trafficking Syndicate: FEDS PROBE" (archived here) which opened:

The FBI has intervened in the murder investigation of former Arkansas state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, according to federal agents who detailed what the Republican politician was investigating prior to her grisly murder.

Collins-Smith was gunned down and her body was discovered outside her home about two hours northeast of Little Rock on June 4. She suffered multiple gunshot wounds.

Screenshot of https://truepundit.com/fbi-reveals-murdered-arkansas-senator-planned-to-expose-child-pornography-child-sex-trafficking-syndicate-feds-probe/

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

FBI Reveals Murdered Arkansas Senator Planned to Expose Child Pornography, Child Sex Trafficking Syndicate: FEDS PROBE - True Pundit

The FBI has intervened in the murder investigation of former Arkansas state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, according to federal agents who detailed what the Republican politician was investigating prior to her grisly murder. Collins-Smith was gunned down and her body was discovered outside her home about two hours northeast of Little Rock on June 4. She...

After Collins-Smith's body was found outside her home on June 4, 2019, her death mystery immediately triggered a series of fake conspiracy stories claiming she was about to expose a child sex trafficking ring involving the state's Department of Human Services and high-ranking officials. Lead Stories found these reports to be false and we shared our findings in a story titled "Fake News: Police Investigating Death Of Former Senator Who Did NOT Believe She Was Closing In On Child Trafficking Ring."
Soon after we published that story, Arkansas State Police and the Randolph County Sheriff's Department arrested a close friend and political supporter of Collins-Smith, 48-year-old Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell, and charged her with capital murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence. While prosecutors are staying tight-lipped about the case, there is no reason to believe that O'Donnell's motives were connected to politics or a chid sex trafficking ring. The suspect's social media postings indicate she is a Republican and a supporter of President Donald Trump. She worked as a volunteer on Collins-Smith's failed re-election campaign and even testified in the former senator's divorce trial. The TruePundit article, however, claimed the federal investigators were on the case because of Collins-Smith's special knowledge of a child porn and trafficking syndicate:

With a murder suspect already in custody, however, federal law enforcement sources revealed Collins-Smith, at the time of her death, was probing child pornography cases linking to a child trafficking syndicate in Arkansas.

"She had developed this information through contacts and people very close to her," a law enforcement source said. "The plan was to go public with all of it or hand it to law enforcement outside of Arkansas."

The FBI sources would not say whether the former senator was working with the FBI prior to her death. But federal insiders said the FBI began interviewing witnesses in the case in recent weeks. Also the Secret Service has taken an interest in the case as well, though FBI sources would not elaborate on the Secret Service's role.

Lead Stories contacted FBI headquaters in Washington and the Arkansas State Police in LIttle Rock about the claim that the FBI was involved in such an investigation connected to Collins-Smith's death. We were assured on the record -- not through an anonymous source -- that the federal agency was not. Arkansas Police spokesman Bill Sadler said this:
At one juncture, the Federal Bureau of Investigation did assist us in that case, but it had nothing to do with what you're asking about (a purported child sex ring.) It was limited to the homicide.

Sadler make it clear to Lead Stories that there is no investigation of a child pornography or child sex traffic syndicate connected to the Collins-Smith killing.

We were not surprised, considering the investigation that journalist Craig Silverman with Buzzfeed has done into the founder and writer for TruePundit.com. Michael Moore writes under the pseudonym Thomas Paine, the name of an 18th century political philosopher. He is a ex-con who admits he launched his website as vowed revenge on the FBI after he was successfully investigated and prosecuted on a federal charge. Moore wrote on his website about his anger that agents raided his home while his family was there:

These were bad guys. But I can think of few, if any, of those cases where federal agents rolled into those people's homes and pointed guns in the faces of their children. That's simply asking for trouble. On many fronts. It baffles me to this day. If the FBI had waited another hour and my kids were off to school, things could have been much different. But the lead agent didn't have the brains or experience to comprehend he had put his crew into a potentially dangerous situation. He did no recon on when my sons went to school. And unwittingly, he ultimately unleashed a clandestine collection of current and former law enforcement officials onto his employer in the form of True Pundit. That was a mistake.

Silverman wrote that Moore's (Paine's) favorite tactic is to fabricate "anonymous sources" for his fake conspiracy stories:

Paine combines the use of a pseudonym with almost exclusive use of anonymous sources to establish the persona of a deeply connected reporter with a vast network of FBI, law enforcement, and government sources. As with the Page story, he adds false or conspiracy-filled claims to real events or documents in order to create the impression of being rooted in fact. And the retweets, traffic, and supporters have rolled in.

Lead Stories can confirm that he did it again.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes truepundit.com as:

A website that publishes political conspiracy theories and false information, while claiming to quote current and former U.S. government and law enforcement officials.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

We wrote about truepundit.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?


Click this link to copy it to your clipboard
Then click here if you have Facebook or click here if you have Twitter to see who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.

About the author:

Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke co-founded Lead Stories after ending a 26-year career with CNN, where he mainly covered entertainment, current affairs and politics. Duke closely covered domestic terrorism cases for CNN, including the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, the UNABOMBER and search for Southeast bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. CNN moved Duke to Los Angeles in 2009 to cover the entertainment beat. Duke also co-hosted a daily podcast with former HLN host Nancy Grace, "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace" and hosted the podcast series "Stan Lee's World: His Real Life Battle with Heroes & Villains." You'll also see Duke in many news documentaries, including on the Reelz channel, CNN and HLN.

Read more about or contact Alan Duke

About Lead Stories

Lead Stories uses the Trendolizer™ engine to detect the most trending stories from known fake news, satire and prank websites and tries to debunk them as fast as possible. Read more about how we work and how we select stories to check here.

Spotted a hoax that you think we should investigate? Have a tip? Want to send us a correction? Contact us!

You can also follow us here:

Most read

Recent

Like or Follow us to get the latest!

NEW! Subscribe to our YouTube channel: