Jim Huggins was the FBI supervisor who was dispatched to Pikeville, Ky., as the case of young FBI agent Mark Putnam plunged toward its tragic conclusion. Jim and I spent time together last July on location in eastern Kentucky for the movie adaptation of my book “Above Suspicion,” and became good friends who were able to compare notes on very sad mutual memories.
The movie stars Emilia Clarke as Susan Smith, the doomed young coal miner’s daughter who becomes fatally involved with Putnam, who is played by Jack Huston. Johnny Knoxville, Thora Burch and Sophie Lowe a also in the movie, which is directed by Phillip Noyce. Release is set for later this year.
Jim Huggins had a long and storied career as an FBI agent, but this was a sorrowful case that he was never able to get out of his mind because, as he laments, it was all so preventable.
Jim was recently interviewed about this case by podcaster and crime author Jerri Williams, herself a former FBI agent. His take on the tragedy is compelling listening: