Sign Honoring Officer in "Onion Field" Slaying Dedicated

The sign on the Hollywood Freeway, at the Gower Street overpass, is dedicated to LAPD Officer Ian Campbell, slain in 1963

By Jason Kandel
|  Saturday, Mar 9, 2013  |  Updated 10:49 PM PDT
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Sign Honors Officer in "Onion Field" Slaying

Office Ian Campbell, pictured at left, was slain by ex-convicts in the 1963 "Onion Field" killing, which left a major mark on the Los Angeles Police Department. On Friday, the intersection of Carlos Avenue and North Gower Street was named for him.

The LAPD chief and two top chroniclers of LA police lore were among the luminaries dedicating a freeway sign on Saturday to slain Los Angeles Police Officer Ian Campbell, killed in a case 50 years ago that became known as "The Onion Field."

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and best-selling authors James Ellroy and Joseph Wambaugh attended the ceremony at the Los Angeles Police Museum in Highland Park, where an exhibition titled “The Onion Field” opened on the 50th anniversary of the incident.

The sign on the Hollywood Freeway is at the Gower Street overpass -- near the intersection of Carlos Avenue and Gower -- where Campbell and partner Karl Hettinger were kidnapped on March 9, 1963, after questioning two robbery suspects during a traffic stop.

Ex-convicts Gregory Powell and Jimmy Lee Smith took the officers to an onion field near Bakersfield where Powell shot the officers then both he and Smith fled.

Campbell was fatally shot. Hettinger, who was not hit, fled to a nearby farmhouse where he got help. He died of natural causes in 1994.

Powell and Smith were arrested the same year of the crime and were eventually convicted.

Smith died in prison while serving time for a parole violation a few years ago.

Powell died in a California prison on Aug. 12 after a bout with terminal prostate cancer.

Two days earlier, officials dedicated the Carlos Avenue and North Gower Street intersection to Campbell.

Ten years after the killing, Wambaugh, a former LAPD sergeant, wrote the nonfiction account police abduction and shooting in a book called "The Onion Field," which also became a movie.
 

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