Local News in Brief : ‘Onion Field’ Killer Rearrested in Burbank

Jimmy Lee Smith, a convicted killer whose role in the murder of a Los Angeles police officer was chronicled in the book “The Onion Field,” was being held without bail Saturday in Burbank after he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of a narcotic, Burbank police said.

Lt. Art Moody said Smith, 57, of North Hollywood, was driving an old Plymouth Fury when he was stopped about 10:30 p.m. Friday for a routine traffic violation in the 1000 block of North San Fernando Road. Moody said officers did not realize who Smith was when they arrested him.

Smith was paroled in 1982 after serving 19 years of a life sentence for killing Los Angeles Police Officer Ian James Campbell in an onion patch near Bakersfield in 1963. His accomplice, Gregory Powell, is still serving a life sentence.

This is the third time Smith has been accused of violating parole since he was freed, Moody said.


Four months after his release, Smith was jailed for six months for violating his parole by using heroin. In 1984, Smith was convicted of two counts of selling heroin and served three years of a five-year sentence before being paroled March 30.

Smith was being held without bail at the Burbank jail because he violated the March parole, Moody said. His last address was on Bakman Avenue in North Hollywood, Moody said.

Smith and Powell kidnaped Campbell and Officer Karl Hettinger and shot Campbell to death. The crime was the subject of Joseph Wambaugh’s “The Onion Field,” which was a best-seller and was made into a movie.