The real story of the first FBI agent convicted of murder
It is told in a new film, “Above Any Suspicion”, which starts this Thursday. Emilia Clarke is one of the protagonists.
It’s called “Above Any Suspicion” and was Emilia Clarke’s first project after shooting the final season of “The Game of Thrones,” a series on which she played Daenerys Targaryen. Two years later, the film will hit Portuguese cinemas this Thursday, August 5th.
Directed by Phillip Noyce, the plot is based on the book of the same name by Joe Sharkey, which tells the true story of the first FBI agent convicted of murder. The cast also includes Jack Huston, Sophie Lowe, Johnny Knoxville, Austin Hébert, Thora Birch and Kevin Dunn.
Although the film has not received critical acclaim, it tells a compelling and truthful narrative that was shocking at the time. This is the story of Mark Putnam and Susan Smith – lovers with a professional connection whose relationship would tragically end.
Mark Putnam was a young 27-year-old FBI agent fresh out of the academy when he was stationed in the small mountain town of Pikeville, Kentucky. It was a small FBI post with little oversight and very few agents. Putnam moved in 1987 with his wife, Kathy, and their two young children.
A few months earlier, a robber had stolen the equivalent of around 15,000 euros from a nearby bank. After some lead-free lead, local authorities focused on Carl Edward “Cat Eyes” Lockhart, an eccentric and almost professional thief who allegedly shamelessly disclosed what he had stolen.
Mark Putnam and Susan Smith.
Already with the assistance of the FBI, the authorities began to approach people close to Lockhart in order to uncover evidence. His best friend, Kenneth Smith, was found to be unreliable, so Mark Putnam began molesting Kenneth’s ex-wife, Susan Smith, who was still living with him. So she became an informant.
The FBI agent and Susan Smith met several times a week. In exchange for information, Putnam paid his informant thousands of dollars. Susan announced that Lockhart was likely to be preparing another hit, having found a bag of guns and masks.
Susan Smith was slowly becoming obsessed with this case. He began calling Mark Putnam’s home repeatedly, including his wife, Kathy.
“On the one hand, she seemed to have the idea that this was a constant job and that Mark was her boss,” says Kathy in Joe Sharkey’s book. “On the other hand, she seemed to see it as sort of Bonnie and Clyde.”
The situation began to escalate. In addition to the constant phone calls, Susan cut her hair just like Kathy’s. For Christmas he bought athletic shoes and a Nike T-shirt to give to the FBI agent. One day, Smith went into a courtroom and showed his chest to security guards, allegedly to make Putnam jealous.
According to the book this film is based on, Kathy was so concerned that she warned her husband. “Never get involved with this woman … she’ll get pregnant and she’ll ruin you.”
The marriage became strained – and Susan and Mark eventually got together. A week before Christmas, Putnam took Susan on a road trip into the mountains, where they got involved in physical activity. According to Putnam, they had five relationships over a two-week period until the FBI agent decided to end the extramarital affair.
After other locals threatened Putnam’s family for being implicated in other cases, the agent was relocated to Miami to his great relief. Problem is, in Kentucky, Susan Smith will have started spreading rumors about the relationship between the two. He said they were in love and she was pregnant with his child.
Mark Putnam returned to Pikeville to end an affair – and took Susan up with him on that trip into the mountains. This time, however, the atmosphere was neither romantic nor friendly. The FBI agent said he would give the baby a paternity test – and if it were his, he would adopt it with his wife, Kathy. Susan Smith is said to have been filled with anger and violence during the argument and the two began fighting. Mark Putnam strangled Susan Smith to death.
She put the body of her former informant and lover in the chest, where it stayed a full day, and the next night put it in a ravine. He would probably have stayed there for quite a while if the guilty and remorseful FBI agent hadn’t confessed to the crime and brought the authorities to the body after a year.
At the time, prosecutor in charge of the case, John Paul Runyon, told the Associated Press, “We had no evidence. Nothing that could lead to an indictment or conviction of this man. In the 28 years that I’ve been a public prosecutor, a lawyer called me for the first time and said, ‘I have a man who confesses to murder and wants to go to prison’ without our having any evidence. “
Mark Putnam was sentenced to 16 years in prison for good conduct but only served 10 years. He left in 2000. Two years earlier, Putnam’s wife, Kathy, died of organ failure, probably caused by the alcoholism she developed during that time. I was 38 years old.
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