066: Jim Huggins – Mark Putnam, FBI Informant Murderer

Retired agent Jim Huggins served in the FBI for 28 years. During his Bureau career, Huggins was assigned to the Minneapolis, Denver and Louisville Divisions, in addition to special assignments on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation during the Wounded Knee takeovers in 1973 and again in 1975 and during the RESMURS investigation of the murder of two FBI agents Jack Coler and Ron Williams.

In this episode, Jim Huggins is interviewed about his investigation of FBI agent Mark Putnam, a new agent assigned to a two-man resident agency in Pikeville, Kentucky, high in Appalachian coal country.

Based primarily on Huggins’ ability to elicit a confession, Putnam pled guilty and was convicted of strangling is his pregnant informant, Susan Daniels Smith, in a fit of rage.

This case was probably Huggins most infamous. However, while assigned to the Louisville Division, he also conducted or supervised many of Kentucky’s biggest corruption investigations.

He served as the supervisor of the Lexington Resident Agency from 1986 until his retirement. After retiring from the FBI, Jim Huggins was appointed by the Kentucky Attorney General as Director of Investigations for the Public Corruption Unit, where he worked for seven years. Recently, Huggins was hired as a technical consultant for Above Suspicion, the feature film based on the non-fiction book of the same name that depicts the tragic saga of Mark Putnam and Susan Smith.

Supervisory Special Agent (Retired)

Jim Huggins

2/13/1967 – 11/5/1995









The following are links to newspaper articles and blog post about the Mark Putnam murder investigation, book and feature film:

Ex-F.B.I. Agent Admits Slaying and Gets 16 Years

Former Kentucky FBI agent relives notorious case as movie consultant

The Girl From Lonesome Holler Commentary on the Putnam case by Joe Sharkey author of Above Suspicion

Update: The movie about the case was released in 2020 and is available on demand. Watch the trailer here. Read my movie review here.

Photo of Jim Huggins during the time period he served as the case agent for the kidnapping/missing person case for Susan Smith, the pregnant informant of Mark Putnam.











New agent Mark Putnam receiving his credentials at his FBI Academy graduation in 1987.











Jim Huggins says that Above Suspicion, Wall Street Journal reporter Joe Sharkey’s book on the Mark Putnam murder case, is an accurate account of the events that resulted in the murder of Susan Smith, Putnam’s pregnant informant.













Update: The movie about the case was released in 2020 and is available on demand. Watch the trailer here. Read my movie review here.













Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 300 episodes available on all popular podcast apps and YouTube.

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