Infamous ‘Onion Field’ Cop Killer Dies In Vacaville Prison

VACAVILLE (CBS/AP) — Gregory Powell, who was convicted of killing a Los Angeles police officer during an infamous kidnapping that inspired Joseph Wambaugh’s true-life crime novel “The Onion Field,” has died in a Vacaville prison. He was 79.

The Department of Corrections said Powell died at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville on Sunday.

Powell and co-defendant, Jimmy Lee Smith were convicted of abducting Officer Ian Campbell and partner Officer Karl Hettinger from a Hollywood street on March 6, 1963, during a traffic stop.

Powell pulled a gun on Campbell and disarmed the officers, then he and Smith drove them to an onion field near Bakersfield where Powell shot Campbell in the face. Hettinger escaped.

The crimes were documented in the 1973 book “The Onion Field” and the 1979 film.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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