Apple TV+’s crime series ‘Black Bird’ centers around the true story of James “Jimmy” Keene, a Chicago-based drug dealer who gets arrested by the DEA and FBI for drug-trafficking charges. Jimmy gets sentenced to ten years in prison, only to receive an opportunity to walk free from the same. Special Agent Lauren McCauley, along with attorney Edmund Beaumont, offers Jimmy assistance to get released from prison in return for a murder confession from suspected serial killer Larry DeWayne Hall. When Jimmy accepts the deal, Lauren guides him to Larry. Since the FBI agent rewrites the fate of Jimmy, one must be wondering whether she is based on a real agent. Let’s find out!
Is Lauren McCauley Based on a Real FBI Agent?
Special Agent Lauren McCauley is a fictionalized version of an FBI agent referred to as Janice Butkus in ‘In with the Devil: A Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption,’ the source text of the show, written by James “Jimmy” Keene and Hillel Levin. Like Lauren pretends to be Jimmy’s girlfriend while visiting MCFP Springfield to garner information concerning Larry, Janice pretended to be the same while she was visiting real-life Jimmy in MCFP Springfield. As per the source text, Janice kissed Jimmy for the sake of their cover and instructed him to not approach Larry in a haste.
Janice also gave Jimmy a number to contact her in case of an emergency. As per ‘In with the Devil,’ Jimmy eventually managed to make Larry talk about Tricia Reitler. Even though the alleged killer didn’t confess to killing Tricia directly, he revealed to Jimmy that Tricia entered his van and he choked her when she resisted his attempts to kiss her and tried to leave his van. According to Jimmy’s book, Larry said to him that he blacked out, only to see Tricia dead in the van and realize that he “had done it again.”
Jimmy also found a map of Illinois and Indiana with Larry, which had red dots scattered over it, possibly indicating the locations of his alleged victims’ dead bodies. Jimmy then tried to contact Janice but failed and later ended up in solitary confinement. Janice eventually arrived at the facility and took Jimmy out of the prison. “No one knew that you were in so deep with him [Larry]. When we stopped hearing from you, it was hard to take your call seriously,” Janice explained to Jimmy about the predicament, as per the source text. The FBI agent then led him to Metropolitan Correctional Center, Chicago, certain days before Jimmy’s release.
Although Lauren is based on a real FBI agent, the influence is partial. Janice never approached Jimmy concerning his undercover mission before he got transferred to Springfield, unlike Lauren, who meets Jimmy in the prison in Milan, Michigan, to talk about the deal. In reality, attorney Lawrence Beaumont, the inspiration behind Edmund Beaumont, was the one who struck a deal with Jimmy. Janice and Jimmy met for the first time in the Springfield prison and not before as Lauren does in the show. Jimmy’s book also doesn’t state that Janice was involved in the initial investigation of Jessica Roach’s murder and Tricia Reitler’s disappearance, unlike Lauren, who gets involved in the same in the show.
Even though the FBI agent is referred to as Janice Butkus in Jimmy’s book, the person most likely is Janet Butkus, who worked for the FBI at the time of Jimmy’s imprisonment. Janet reportedly became an FBI special agent in 1991. From 1991 to 2002, which includes the period Jimmy was in MCFP Springfield, Janet was working in Springfield. During the period, she also played a key part in the Oklahoma City bombing investigation. As an FBI agent, Janet had investigated several cases concerning counterterrorism, counterintelligence, violent crimes, etc.
Where is Janet Butkus Now?
Janet Butkus retired from the FBI in March 2016. Before retiring, she had taken part in several federal investigations and programs. In February 2016, she joined Indiana University as a physical security analyst and served at the place until October 2017. Janet mainly focused on physical security assessments and CPTED recommendations for the safety and security of the university. As per sources, she currently lives in Greater Indianapolis. She is married as well.