The illicit affairs that led to Mark Putnam killing Susan Smith have been brought to life in director Phillip Noyce’s crime thriller ‘Above Suspicion.’ Starring Emilia Clarke, Jack Houston, Sophie Lowe, and Austin Helbert, the movie focus on an ambitious rookie agent trying to help out an FBI field officer in the small town of Pikeville, Kentucky. However, a number of events transpire, and Mark Putnam ends up killing her.
While the creators of the 2021 movie have taken creative liberties to accentuate the narrative of the movie, the case of Susan Smith still leaves people aghast. The event made Mark Putnam the only FBI Agent to ever be charged with murder. If you are also curious to learn more about Mark Putnam, don’t look beyond. So now, let’s find out more about him, shall we?
Who is Mark Putnam?
Born on July 4, 1959, in Coventry, Connecticut, Mark Steven Putnam had been a highly competitive child when it came to sports and academics. He was always drawn to sports and even in his time at the University of Tampa, majoring in criminology, Putnam had dedicated himself to sports where he would channel his aggression. While his involvement in extracurriculars was aplenty, his dream to become an FBI agent had always come first. Before moving to Kentucky, he married Kathy, the daughter of a wealthy real-estate developer.
In August 1986, Putnam managed to join the FBI as an agent and was later stationed at Pikeville, Kentucky. To nab the thief who had stolen $18,000 in cash from a bank in Kentucky, Putnam familiarized himself with Susan and Kenneth Smith, husband and wife, who, despite separation, still shared a house. Since the Smiths were renting a room to Putnam’s suspect, Carl Edwards “Cat Eyes” Lockhart, Putnam’s strategy seemed foolproof.
However, it wasn’t long before his association with Susan as a handler became something else. As per reports, Susan Smith would often hang out at the courthouse to meet Mark, call Mark’s wife Kathy Putnam and talk for hours and even cut her hair to mirror Mark’s wife Kathy. It wasn’t too long before Mark and Susan engaged in illicit affairs. Even so, their rendezvous and sexual relations were hidden from Mark’s wife Kathy.
Later, Putnam was transferred to Miami and Susan soon became pregnant. As per reports, Susan consistently told him that she would tell everyone about the pregnancy, including the FBI and newspapers. When she was four months pregnant, Mark returned to Pikeville to work on another case. During this visit, he took Smith on a drive to Peter Creek Mountain. Mark asked Susan for a paternity test and said that he would adopt the child Susan bore. However, their conversation soon evolved into a serious alteration and Putnam ended up strangling and killing her on June 8, 1989.
Where is Mark Putnam Now?
After killing Susan Smith, Mark Putnam carried her dead body inside the trunk of his car for an entire day before dumping her on a roadside ravine the following night. It wasn’t too long before Susan’s sister Shelby Ward reported her missing, and Putnam drew focus. However, with no evidence, Mark couldn’t be charged. Shockingly, Putnam ended up committing his crimes himself a year later. Putnam pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter for killing Susan Smith on June 12, 1990.
In a signed confession, Putnam admitted that he choked Susan Smith in extreme rage. He was sentenced to 16-year old prison sentence at the Federal Medical Centre in Rochester, Minnesota. Despite his crime of passion, Putnam’s wife remained dedicated to him throughout and even moved to Minnesota to be closer to him. However, in 1998, Kathy Putnam died at their home in Manchester from organ failure, partially due to severe alcoholism, showing the dire effects of the travesty. On the other hand, Putnam was shifted to different federal institutions.
While Mark Putnam was sentenced to 16 years in prison, his release came soon. For serving as a “model prisoner” in the penitentiary in different facilities, Mark Putnam was released after 10 years. After his release from a Massachusetts prison in 2000, at the age of 41, Mark Putnam restarted his life in Georgia. Post his incarceration, the family chose to conceal the information about Mark’s children, who had lived through the harrowing events of their father being put behind bars and their mother’s demise.
Now in his 60s, Mark Putnam is remarried and stays in Georgia, working as a personal trainer. While Putnam continues to keep the details about his personal and professional life under wraps, many still hope to discover the extensive details of the events that transpired between them and led Mark Putnam to commit such a crime.