Pike County murder hits movie screens
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) – Riverfill 10 Cinema reopened on Wednesday for the first time in over a year, resurrecting screens with – among other options – a film about a local murder.
On June 8, 1989, Susan Daniels Smith was killed in the Pikeville area. Smith, a mother of two from Freeburn, worked with the FBI as an informant with an agent named Mark Putnam. This partnership, according to reports, quickly turned into business. A case that ultimately ended when Putnam strangled Smith.
“It’s now part of our culture. You know, how many FBI killers do we know? asked Cathy Harris, director of Riverfill 10.
The case, which garnered local and national media attention, was the first reported case of an FBI agent committing a homicide. Books and TV shows have been created out of history and this shock continues to ripple through various forms of media today.
Harris said she remembers the events that were unfolding and her husband, a former Kentucky State Police Station 9 dispatcher, shared some of his experiences with her.
“He told me that the day it happened – and he didn’t know it at the time, but after he knew it – the day it happened, Mark Putnam came to station 9 with the dead woman in the trunk of his car, ”Harris said.
She said she was also questioned, after working in the old city cinema, which she said Putnam used as an alibi.
“I guess he told them when that happened he was at the movies, but he obviously wasn’t at the movies,” she said.
But now it can be found at the movies – or in one. The film crews were in Harlan County in 2016, recording a movie called Above Suspicion. This movie was finally released during the pandemic. And now, as theaters reopen, Riverfill 10 is showing the film on the big screen, starring actress Emilia Clarke.
“I loved Game of Thrones, you know. And now, you know, seeing her in a movie, you know, about my hometown, even though it was a dark part of our town’s history, ”said Jonathan Collins, a local man and Riverfill 10 employee. .
Locals believe it’s important to keep history alive, but some are wary of how the story will pass through the Hollywood gaze.
“She’s a woman who lost her life. You know, and aside from rumors about anything, you know, you should always treat people with dignity, ”Collins said. “And the people of this region deserve dignity and the dead certainly deserve dignity.”
But, despite everything, most people at the theater on Wednesday said they were committed to giving the film a shot.
The movie theater announces its sitting hours on its Facebook page.
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