The true crime behind Emilia Clarke’s ‘Above Suspicion’

Mark Putnam’s accountable plea on June 12, 1990, was not like every an American courtroom had seen sooner than.

Putnam was a youthful FBI agent — and the first to ever be convicted of homicide. The person had confessed to strangling his lover Susan Smith, who not solely labored for him as an informant, nevertheless was talked about to be carrying his unborn child.

The demise of Smith is the subject of a model new movie starring Emilia Clarke known as “Above Suspicion,” out now. The story is a tragic story of how one man’s ambition and one different woman’s wild infatuation collided with deadly penalties.

Connecticut native Putnam was 27 years earlier and easily out of the FBI Academy when he found himself stationed in Pikeville, Kentucky, a small Appalachian metropolis three hours from Lexington with a nearly unsupervised two-agent outpost. He moved there in 1987 collectively along with his partner Kathy and their two youthful youngsters. 

Only a few months earlier, a robber had stolen $18,000 in cash from a monetary establishment in shut by Meta, Kentucky, and it was as a lot because the native brokers to find out and catch the thief. After some false leads, they centered in on Carl Edward “Cat Eyes” Lockhart, an space eccentric and repeat offender who had a pesky habits of wildly spending his loot.

“Cat Eyes’ chief virtues had been gregariousness, loquaciousness and generosity,” wrote Joe Sharkey in his e-book “Above Suspicion.” “Qualities admirable in law-abiding residents, however problematic in financial institution robbers.”

The companions approached Lockhart’s best pal, Kenneth Smith, and his 25-year-old ex-wife Susan Smith. Regardless of no longer being married, they nonetheless lived collectively. However Kenneth proved unreliable, so Putnam picked Susan to be an informant instead. 

In the film, Susan (Emilia Clarke) has a rocky relationship with her ex-husband, now called Cash (Johnny Knoxville).
Within the film, Susan Smith (Emilia Clarke) has a rocky relationship alongside together with her ex-husband, Kenneth Smith, now known as Money (Johnny Knoxville).
©Roadside Points of interest/Courtesy

The pair would meet two to three cases every week, and Smith quickly instructed Putnam she believed Lockhart was planning one different heist because of she discovered a duffel bag with two sawed-off shotguns and ski masks of their dwelling, Sharkey writes. Putnam would pay her tons of of {{dollars}} for options, whereas she turned increasingly enamored alongside together with her handler.

Susan began calling Putnam’s dwelling regularly, and his partner Kathy would determine up the cellphone and play the place of therapist for hours on end.

“On the one hand, she appeared to have the concept it was like an everyday job, and Mark was her boss,” Kathy says in Sharkey’s e-book. “Then, on the opposite, I feel she noticed him and her as Bonnie and Clyde.”

The bizarre state of affairs turned further unhealthy and decided. Moreover the nonstop cellphone calls, Susan decrease her hair temporary to look like Kathy’s. For Christmas, she bought Putnam pricey trainers and a Nike shirt — an enormous no-no for an FBI informant. Sooner or later, Smith went looking for Putnam on the courthouse and flashed her breasts on the security guards, seemingly to make him jealous.

In line with Sharkey’s e-book, a concerned Kathy warned her husband: “Don’t you ever become involved with this lady . . . She’s going to get pregnant, and she is going to break you.”

Mark Putnam clasps his hands in front of his face in Pikeville, Kentucky on June 12, 1990, prior to being sentenced to 16 years in prison for the strangulation death of Susan Smith.
In precise life, FBI agent Mark Putnam was given a 16-year jail sentence for the strangulation demise of Susan Smith.

His marriage strained, Putnam took Susan on a drive by way of the mountains each week sooner than Christmas, and they also had intercourse in his vehicle. Putnam claims the pair made love 5 cases over a two-week interval, merely in that vehicle, after which he known as the connection quits.

After native townsfolk threatened his family in reference to ongoing circumstances, Putnam was transferred to Miami, lots to his support.

However in response to Sharkey, whereas Putnam was away, Susan began fabricating a further involved two-year relationship between them and shouting about it from the rooftops. That they had been in love, she talked about, and she or he was pregnant collectively along with his child.

Whereas visiting Pikeville to wrap up a case, Putnam took Smith on a drive to Peter Creek Mountain one evening time. He claims he instructed her he would get a paternity check out as quickly because the new child was born, and that he and Kathy would undertake the child. This threw Smith proper right into a violent rage. The 2 bodily fought, and Putnam strangled Smith. Her physique went limp, and the agent realized she was lifeless.

Putnam put Smith’s physique throughout the trunk of the auto, the place it stayed for an entire day, until he dumped it proper right into a roadside ravine the subsequent evening time. It could have remained there if not for Putnam, wracked with guilt, confessing to the crime and primary investigators to the corpse a 12 months later.

Prosecutor John Paul Runyon was flabbergasted. He advised the Related Press that ″we had utterly no proof. Not one scintilla or shred of proof to ship a value or convict this man.″

″Within the 28 years that I’ve been a prosecutor, that’s the main experience that I’ve had the place a lawyer known as me on a cellphone and talked about, ‘I’ve a person who desires to admit to homicide, or murder, and desires to go to the penitentiary,’ and we had utterly no proof.”

Putnam was sentenced to 16 years in jail, nevertheless was launched after 10 years, early in 2000, on good conduct. Two years prior, Putnam’s partner Kathy died of organ failure — probably from heavy ingesting — at age 38.

At present, Putnam is remarried and lives in Georgia. However surprisingly, Kathy’s dad and mother on a regular basis caught by their former son-in-law.

“He’s a beautiful man,” her mother Carol Ponticelli advised the Hartford Courant when he was let free of jail. “It was a criminal offense of ardour.”

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