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Charles Montaldo

Slain 'Onion Field' Officer Honored

By March 11, 2013

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Fifty years after his kidnapping and murder in an onion field by an ex-convict, a Los Angeles policeman has been honored by the city he served. Last week, signs were posted at an intersection honoring Ian Campbell near the site where he and his partner Carl Hettinger were kidnapped.

The sign names the intersection of Carlos Avenue and North Gower Street in Hollywood "Ian Campbell Square."

Also last week, signs were placed on the Gower Street Overpass on Hollywood Freeway honoring the fallen officer. The new signs can be seen on both sides of the overpass. Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the crime.

Powell Killed Campbell

On March 10, 1963, Campbell and Hettinger pulled over a vehicle in which Gregory Powell and Jimmy Lee Smith, two ex-convicts, were riding. Powell managed to grab Campbell's gun and then demanded that Hettinger turn over his weapon.

The two officers were then taken in Powell's vehicle to a road between two onion fields in Kern County, California. Mistakenly thinking he would be executed for kidnapping, Powell shot Campbell, 31, point blank and tried to shoot Hettinger.

Hettinger managed to avoid begin shot and ran off into the darkness to a farm house to get help.

Case Haunts Hettinger

Ten years after the incident, the case became famous as the subject of a best-selling book by Joseph Wambaugh and in 1979 the book was made into a movie, The Onion Field starring James Woods as Powell and Franklyn Seales as Smith. John Savage played Carl Hettinger and Ted Danson played Ian Campbell.

Giving up his weapon to the kidnappers haunted Hettinger the rest of his life and changed the way LAPD officers are trained to handle similar situations. They are now trained to never give up their weapons regardless of the situation.

Hettinger was psychologically affected by the incident and the aftermath and died a broken man in 1994. All of the principals in the kidnapping are now dead.

Smith, who was paroled in 1982, returned to jail several times as a result of his drug addiction. He died in jail in April 2007. Powell remained behind bars the rest of his life and died in prison in August 2012 of pancreatic cancer, after being denied compassionate release.

See Also:
'Onion Field' Police Officer Honored With Hollywood Freeway Signs

Earlier Articles:
Final 'Onion Field' Killer Dies
'Onion Field' Killer Denied Compassionate Release
'Onion Field' Killer Denied Parole
'Onion Field' Killer Smith Dead at 76
'Onion Field' Killer Back in Prison Again
'Onion Field' Killer Back in Jail
'The Onion Field' Killer Busted for Heroin

The Onion Field:
Order the Book
Order the DVD

Photo: LAPD Photo


March 11, 2013 at 4:26 pm
(1) mary says:

Why on earth would anyone allow an 18year old to purchase a gun. If they drink and drive and usually kill someone imagine them drinking,driving and owning a gun. What idiots are we to allow them to purchase guns?

March 14, 2013 at 5:19 pm
(2) payday loans says:

The fact is that what we see often in times of recession, it will reduce the big ticket back on purchases (eg cars) and decides to do so without needing a loan.
California). If you use these loans wisely and use the money to pay the bills
on time, then it will get you through your emergency.

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