History of Scott Campbell’s Killer (crimes and parole)
Information in this post has been provided by Gary and Collene Campbell, Parents of Scott Campbell, victim:
Reference: Re-scheduled Parole Hearing, Lawrence Cowell, CDC #D21718 on October 25, 2016, at 8:30am, California Men’s Colony, San Luis Obispo, CA.
Cowell’s three previous Parole Hearings: 2001, 2006 & 2011 were at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, Blythe, CA. NOTE: Cowell had only served 14 years before the Campbell’s were forced to endure his first painful parole hearing in 2001. Cowell’s sentence was two 25 years with 6-year enhancement, while his co-conspirator received life without the possibility of parole.
Below is a partial timeline of Cowell’s crime history and illegal activities.
Lawrence R. Cowell was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Scott Campbell. His criminal record can adequately speak for his lack of ability to get along in society. Following is a brief overview of Cowell’s partial “known” criminal history, activity, carnage, and the human suffering he has left in his wake as a free man:
March 27, 1979: Lawrence Cowell was involved in a minor traffic accident in the City of Anaheim. In an ensuing dispute with the other driver, George Robb Ellison, inmate Cowell, brandished a chrome .25-caliber handgun. Cowell was cited for possession of the gun and it was confiscated and destroyed.
July 31, 1980: Lawrence Cowell, with a blood alcohol level in excess of 2.3 and
driving at a recklessly high speed, crashed a 1972 Pantera into a utility pole in the City of
Anaheim. Robert Leon Ferguson, the inmate’s passenger, was literally torn apart as the
pole severed both legs and a portion of his left arm from his body. He died as a result of
his injuries. A vial of cocaine was found inside inmate Cowell’s sock during the arrest.
The license plate on the vehicle belonged to a different Pantera, also owned by Cowell and the vehicle he was driving was not insured. The victim’s wife and two young sons incurred a huge loss, both emotionally and financially. Despite repeated attempts by the victim’s family, Cowell never provided restitution. This inmate was allowed to remain free on bond. At the scene of the crash, Lawrence Cowell was caught by the police officers attempting to plant “his drugs” on the body of his sober friend. NOTE: Cowell was not trying to save his friend’s life; he was only trying to get rid of his own illegal drugs.
1981: The inmate’s vehicle left the scene of a collision with a bicyclist in which the bicyclist suffered a broken leg. While this accident is reflected on the inmate’s driving record, he claimed later that his father, Eugene Cowell, was the driver of the car. Why his father would be driving the inmate’s vehicle, on the exact route between the inmate’s workplace and home, has never been explained.
April 17, 1982: While out on bail for the killing of Robert Ferguson, Cowell conspired to rob, and brutally murder Scott Campbell. He and the accomplice he hired, threw Scott’s body out of an airplane into the Pacific Ocean. Scott was 27 years old at the time, the only son in his loving family, who were longtime Cowell family friends. Scott left an extended and very loving family. The police requested that Scott’s Uncle, auto racing legend Mickey Thompson, verify that it was his missing nephew’s car that Cowell had in his shop, since Cowell had changed the license plate and ground off the car’s VIN number. The heartbroken uncle was able to verify that it was his missing nephew’s car.
Cowell knew the entire family well and watched while the victim’s parents frantically
searched for their missing son for eleven months. (Scott’s body was never recovered.)
Later, when the undercover officers spoke to Cowell & DiMascio on tape, the killers
laughed about how they bloodied Scott up before they threw him out of the airplane so
the sharks would eat him.
August 27 1982: The inmate was convicted of vehicular manslaughter, possession of narcotics, and felony driving under the influence for the death of Robert Ferguson. The sentencing date was scheduled for September of 1982.
September 22, 1982: Following Scott Campbell’s murder, Cowell was sentenced to 180 days in jail and formally placed on probation. He was specifically ordered by an Orange County Superior Court judge not to use or possess any drugs or firearms. Cowell asked the court to allow him to begin his jail time after the Christmas holidays. The court granted that request. However, within 24 hours, Cowell was caught smoking marijuana in his home. Sitting next to him on the bedside table was a fully loaded .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun. Another firearm was also located in the home. Remarkably, he somehow convinced the court to allow him to remain out of custody.
March 12, 1983: Lawrence Cowell arrested, (Co- conspirator, Donald DiMascio arrested March 11) for the murder of Scott Campbell. The court appointed two private attorneys for Lawrence Cowell.
December 1983: In violation to the California Constitution, Lawrence Cowell was granted bail while awaiting a special circumstances murder trial. Linda Cowell, sister of Lawrence Cowell, called Scott’s Mother, Collene and said, “Auntie,” I want to testify against my brother at his trial. He told me had killed Scott and I don’t want him hurting any more people.” (Linda called Collene “Auntie” because the families were close and went on water-skiing trips to the Colorado River together.) NOTE: Linda did testify at her brother’s trial.
June 1, 1984: While out on bail for the murder, and while still under two separate grants of formal probation, the La Paz County Sheriff’s Department received a report of an assault by Cowell. The 18-year old victim in that assault had been driving down the road when Cowell threw a container of soda into his car. After the victim stopped to clean his vehicle, Cowell got out and punched him in the face, knocking off his prescription glasses. After police began an investigation, the victim said he did not want to pursue charges.
November 26, 1984: Cowell and his parents attended a party at the home of Woody Woodcox in Lake Havasu, Arizona. When Cowell was asked to stop using foul language, he began a physical fight with his father, Eugene Cowell. When Cowell’s mother, LaVerne, attempted to pull her son off her husband, Cowell promptly bit off a significant portion of his mother’s finger. Mr. Woodcox later found the severed portion of Mrs. Cowell’s finger near the front door of his home and placed it in his refrigerator. After speaking to physicians attending to Mrs. Cowell, he was told they would be unable to re-attach the missing finger. There were numerous witnesses to this event.
January 6, 1985: After a thorough investigation into these incidents by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the Anaheim Police Department, Cowell again appeared in Orange County Superior Court for a hearing on these two incidents. The Court found the inmate in violation of his probation for both of the Arizona assaults. Despite the urging of the Orange County Probation Department, the Court allowed him to remain free until his trial date.
December 9, 1985: Tried and found guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and robbery of Scott Campbell.
January 6, 1986: Sentenced to two 25 years to life sentences, plus six enhancement years.
NOTE: To add to the grief of this honest, loving family: Auto racing legend Mickey Thompson & his wife Trudy were also murdered on March 16, 1988. Mickey was the only sibling of Scott’s mother, Collene Campbell. (Following their murders it took 27 years to convict the killer.)
November. 3, 1988: The Court of Appeal overturned the trial, and a new trial was ordered.
December 8, 1988: Amazingly, Lawrence Cowell was once again released from custody. This time, on “appeal bond” pending a new trial after his conviction was overturned. NOTE: The victim’s family was not notified of the Court Hearing and only learned through the media that Cowell’s murder conviction had been reversed and also that he had been released from custody.
June 10, 1989: In the evening, during the time he was on bail awaiting a new trial, Cowell was again drinking heavily. This time he was operating a powerboat on the Colorado River, in the dark, at a very high rate of speed. He crashed into a boat owned by a Kevin Semler of Parker, Arizona. Remarkably, Mr. Semler and his companions managed to dive off the boat an instant before the collision. No one was killed in the crash, however a woman named Judy Eisenberg, suffered a broken right elbow due to the collision. Cowell’s blood alcohol level was found to be a .12%, hours after the collision. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and three counts of endangerment. NOTE: Cowell was awaiting trial for this case prior to the sentencing for Scott Campbell’s murder. The Arizona case is still open and could still go to trial. This case can be verified through the La Paz County Sheriff’s Dept., Commander Larry Irwin at (928) 669-6141.
December 20, 1989: Lawrence Cowell was again convicted of robbery and first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder of Scott Campbell. He was finally taken back into custody and was sentenced, Jan. 26, 1990, to two 25 years to life terms in prison, for the second time.
In addition to this incredibly violent history, the inmate’s version of events demonstrates a complete, and utter, lack of true remorse for the murder, for which he has been convicted. Cowell has continued to lie about his involvement in what really happened, and his latest claim clumsily attempts to shift blame onto the victim himself.
His most recent account, as expressed to Dr. Orling, paints the death of Scott Campbell as some sort of unplanned, tragic accident committed by his co-defendant after the victim pulled a gun. (NOTE: At his first parole hearing his story was, they found drugs in the victim’s briefcase and it made the co-defendant mad and he accidentally broke Scott’s neck.)
The inmate asserts his presence was only necessary to recoup losses because the victim had repeatedly wronged him in business dealings and auto repair. It is also interesting to note that Lawrence Cowell had the victim’s Pantera Sports car in his repair shop and was stripping the car and selling the parts. Were it not so horribly tragic, the account of Scott Campbell’s neck “snapping instantly” would be laughable in its utter defiance of human physiology and all known laws of physics.
In reality, the inmate’s latest story is not only contradicted by the physical evidence presented at trial, but also by statements made by both himself and his co-defendant during the investigation. There was evidence of blood found inside the plane and the fairytale expressed to Dr. Orling simply does not explain that. Moreover, the inmate himself told an undercover federal agent that he and his co-conspirator deliberately smashed Scott Campbell’s face to make it more likely sharks would dispose of his body. While Cowell insists he told Scott Campbell he would only fly him to Palomar Airport, he has apparently forgotten the conversation he had with the Federal agent on April 16, 1982 in which he promised to personally meet him the following day in North Dakota. Scott Campbell was present when that statement was made and the evidence clearly bears that out. The inmate’s account is simply not true.
Another favor for Cowell was his being moved to Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, in Blythe, California, to be closer to his parents living on the Colorado River in Parker, AZ.
The truth is Lawrence Cowell brutally murdered a lifelong friend for the basest of all possible reasons: money. He is a manipulative, cowardly, pathological liar who continues to deny the true circumstances of this brutal murder while pathetically feigning remorse in the hope he will gain favor with the parole board. He is continuing to lie to his parole board to this day. Each and every time this man has been released from custody people have been hurt or killed. Each and every time the judicial system has given him leeway; he has made a mockery of it.
April 26, 2011: At his 2011 parole hearing, Lawrence Cowell finally admitted to the vicious murder of Scott Campbell and stated that he had sent five letters of apology to Gary & Collene Campbell, Scott’s parents. In fact, in checking with the California Dept. of Corrections & Rehabilitation, which all inmate correspondence must go through, the CDCR office verified that NO letters had ever been sent to the Campbells from Lawrence Cowell.
Many murders are blamed on alcohol or drug use. However, please note in this case, Lawrence Cowell planned, conspired, rented and flew an airplane, which would have likely been impossible while under the influence. The bottom line is, this vicious killer received a sentence of two 25 years to life terms, which could be served concurrently, plus a six-year enhancement. It is important to note that his co-conspirator received life without parole.
According to Linda, Cowell’s sister, it was due to a payoff she witnessed from Cowell’s parents to his attorney. Sadly we cannot bring our only son back. However, hopefully these true facts and our testimony will help save others from this vicious killer.
According to the Article 1, sec. 28 of the California Constitution the People of California have declared, among other things, that the “rights of victims of crime and their families in criminal prosecutions are a subject of a grave statewide concern.”
To this end, the California Constitution also states, “Victims of crime are entitled to have the criminal justice system view criminal acts as serious threats to the safety and welfare of the people of California… California’s victims of crime are largely dependent upon the proper functioning of government… in order to protect the public safety and to secure justice when the public safety has been compromised by criminal activity.”
The California Constitution directs, “The rights of victims also include broader shared collective rights that are held in common with all of the People of the State of California and that are enforceable through the enactment of laws and through good-faith efforts and actions of California’s elected, appointed, and publicly employed officials. These rights encompass the expectation shared with all of the people of California that persons who commit felonious acts causing injury to innocent victims will be appropriately and thoroughly investigated, appropriately detained in custody, brought before the courts of California even if arrested outside the State, tried by the courts in a timely manner, sentenced and sufficiently punished so that the public safety is protected and encouraged as a goal of highest importance.”
“Victims of crime have a collectively shared right to expect that persons convicted of committing criminal acts are sufficiently punished in both the manner and the length of the sentences imposed by the courts of the State of California.”
“Victims of crime are entitled to finality in their criminal cases. Lengthy appeals and other post-judgment proceedings that challenge criminal convictions, frequent and difficult parole hearings that threaten to release criminal offenders, and the ongoing threat that the sentences of criminal wrongdoers will be reduced, prolong the suffering of crime victims for many years after the crimes themselves have been perpetrated. This prolonged suffering of crime victims and their families must come to an end.”
Finally, there is a clear and enforceable California Constitutional rights to “have the safety of the victim, the victim’s family, and the general public considered before any parole or other post-judgment release decision is made.”
We submit that if you keep these profound and compelling constitutional rights and duties in mind there is only one conclusion to reach. Inmate Cowell’s request for release must be denied and he must be put off for the longest possible term.
Based on these known facts, we believe that this inmate poses an unreasonable risk of danger to society if he were released. It is with the greatest respect that we urge this Parole Board to deny Lawrence Rayborn Cowell parole. We hope and pray there will never be another time of giving Lawrence Cowell more “breaks” and the chance to continue his lies and the opportunity to harm or kill again.
Gary and Collene Campbell
(Scott Campbell’s Father and Mother)
It is further interesting to note that following the 2011 parole hearing, the parole commissioner said to the parents, “This hearing is not about the crimes this inmate committed, it is about whether he had been good in prison.”