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'Onion Field' Cop Killer Dies In Prison

August 13, 2012  | 

Photo via LAPPL.
Photo via LAPPL.

Gregory Powell, who kidnapped two Los Angeles Police officers and killed one of them, has died at a prison medical facility in Vacaville.

Powell, 79, fatally shot Officer Ian Campbell on March 9, 1963, after he and Jimmy Lee Smith kidnapped Campbell and Officer Karl Hettinger at a Hollywood intersection. Powell and Smith drove the officers to a Kern County onion field, where Powell shot Officer Campbell in the face.

Powell was convicted and given the death penalty, which was overturned in 1972. The case became the subject of a Joseph Wambaugh book in 1973 and 1979 movie in which actor James Woods played Powell.

Powell was denied parole at least 12 times, including most recently in January 2010 and again in October 2011.

"Gregory Powell was a cold-blooded murderer who avoided the death penalty, but he won't escape God's judgement," said Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League in a statement. "While Officer Ian Campbell can never be brought back, nor the damage and heartache caused by Powell and Smith be undone, justice was upheld when the parole board denied Powell’s request for compassionate release and ensured he drew his last breath while confined behind prison bars."

On Friday, Los Angeles city officials honored Officer Campbell by renaming the intersection at Carlos and Gower streets in Hollywood, which will now be known as Ian Campbell Square.


Los Angeles Honors Fallen 'Onion Field' Officer

Onion Field Cop Killer: Coming Together for Justice

'Onion Field' Cop Killer Denied Parole

Comments (15)

Displaying 1 - 15 of 15

Steve @ 8/13/2012 4:57 PM

He shouldn't have been incarcerated to start with....he should have been EXECUTED. Instead, money that is desperately needed elsewhere was thrown away keeping this man fed, clothed, and cared for medically. What a WASTE!

Capt David LACO Retired @ 8/13/2012 6:56 PM

Hopefully it was an extremely painful last 10 years for him.

Chuck McKenzie @ 8/13/2012 7:16 PM

Now this POS will get his just reward, and may he burn in hell for eternity. After reading Wambaugh's book, I have no sympathy for thsi dirtbag or the scum who voided his death penalty!

Walkin trails @ 8/13/2012 7:36 PM

I agree that he should have been executed, but at least the state never went any softer on him and let him out.

[email protected] @ 8/13/2012 8:00 PM

So, convicted in the '60s but overturned in '72? Why was he still breathing? Oh, right, its california. Hope this turd went through all the pain one can suffer before he went, over 45 years too late.

JANickols @ 8/13/2012 9:01 PM

I saw and knew of Powell while working at L.A. County Central Jail in 1963. He was a stone killer without any sign of remorse or humanity. He escaped old sparky when Rose Bird and the Supremes dumped the death penalty. Somehow I think being locked up to rot and die without hope of ever being free is worse than death.

If there is a hell, he should be right at home.

James @ 8/13/2012 10:52 PM

Good riddance, now his worthless soul can rot in hell.

IRIS @ 8/14/2012 12:31 AM

what happened to the other killer?

IRIS @ 8/14/2012 12:33 AM

what happened to the other bas., i mean killer?

Chiefjohn @ 8/14/2012 5:55 AM

And it only took LA 49 years to memorialize Officer Campbell. Was they waiting on this guy to die so they didn't hurt his feelings?

FRANK @ 8/14/2012 6:44 AM


TedB @ 8/14/2012 7:48 AM

I knew both Powell and Smith when I worked at San Quentin in the 1970's. Powell was assigned as a clerk, smith was just a yard bitch and both were sniveling weasels. Rosie and her Thorns were responsible for a whole lot of dirtbags avoiding the green room at Quentin. I hope she dies of the screaming s***s!

Robocop @ 8/14/2012 7:54 AM

Forty-nine years too late but it is still was a good day when he died and he now will face an punishment much worse than prison.

Jack @ 2/7/2013 12:52 PM

You people just now say how you hate Powell. WHere wee you scum in the 1970's and 1980's. If you werent making comments then dont now you punks Kep your mouths shut and let the experts who were there or tracked this case then make them GOT IT scum

Trigger @ 4/1/2013 10:57 AM

Wow Jack you sure have a way with words. How do you know that those other individuals were not vocal about what happend back when this murder took place. Sometimes being a professional hinders us from being headlines in these situations. Where were you back then and what is your hangup now?

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