Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
PAROLE DENIED FOR MAN WHO BRUTALLY MURDERED LIFELONG FRIEND FOR MONEY AND THREW VICTIM’S BODY OUT OF A PLANE IN 1982
SANTA ANA – The Board of Parole Hearings, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations, denied the parole today of a man with a history of violent crimes who brutally murdered his lifelong friend for money and threw him out of a plane after deliberately smashing the victim’s face so sharks would eat the body. Lawrence Rayborn Cowell, 62, Anaheim, is currently being held at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blythe, California. Cowell was sentenced Jan. 26, 1990, to two concurrent terms of 25 years to life in state prison. Cowell will be eligible for his next parole hearing in 2016.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) opposed the parole and Orange County Senior Homicide Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy appeared with Collene and Gary Campbell, parents of 27-year-old murder victim Scott Campbell, to defend public safety and advocate for justice.
“Cowell callously lured his trusting friend into a trap to gain a few bucks and brutally murdered him. By throwing Scott Campbell out of an airplane and into the ocean, he denied the chance for Collene and Gary to properly bury their son and visit a grave,” stated District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “Instead of accepting responsibility for what he did and showing remorse, Cowell has continued to lie, shift the blame to others, and assault innocent people each time he was briefly set free. He poses great danger to the community and should never be allowed to be free.”
Murder of Scott Campbell
On April 17, 1982, Cowell, then-33 years old, and co-defendant Donald P. DiMascio, then-32 years old, conspired to murder Cowell’s lifelong friend, Scott Campbell for money. While out of custody on bail for a separate crime, Cowell rented an airplane and hired ex-convict DiMascio to murder Scott Campbell.
Cowell lured Scott Campbell onboard under the pretense of completing his in-flight training to become a pilot and telling the victim that DiMascio was his flight instructor. Once onboard, DiMascio assaulted and strangled Scott Campbell to death while Cowell piloted the plane. Cowell and DiMascio smashed the victim’s face before throwing it from the airplane near Catalina Island to ensure the body would never be recovered.
Later that day, Scott Campbell’s parent’s reported their son missing to the Anaheim Police Department (APD). Upon further investigation by police, Cowell was arrested after being found in possession of Scott Campbell’s Pantera Sports car, which he was stripping and selling the parts.