When Lady Gaga’s French bulldogs were recovered two days after armed assailants stole them and nearly killed the pop star’s dogwalker last February, Los Angeles police said the woman who returned the dogs appeared to be an “uninvolved” good Samaritan.
Two months later, that same woman, Jennifer McBride, was arrested and charged in the case alongside three alleged dognappers and the father of one of the suspects.
In new court documents obtained by Rolling Stone, prosecutors describe exactly how investigators painstakingly linked McBride to her co-defendants and cracked the high-profile attempted murder and robbery case in which dog walker Ryan Fischer was shot in the chest and left for dead, resulting “in the partial loss of his right lung.”
The documents, filed Jan. 21, were the subject of a Thursday hearing in Los Angeles where McBride tried – but failed – to get her October indictment set aside with claims she never “sought or requested” the $500,000 reward offered by Lady Gaga and had “innocent intent” in returning the precious pets.
In her successful opposition to McBride’s motion, Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee persuaded the judge that there’s enough evidence to warrant putting McBride in front of a jury on charges she was a willing accessory after the fact and received the dogs knowing they were stolen. In her 108-page filing, she described her theory of how investigators quickly unraveled the case once McBride returned the dogs to LAPD’s Olympic Station on Feb. 24, 2021, giving a story that seemed to crumble under scrutiny.
According to Hanisee’s filing, McBride told LAPD Det. Chris Marsden that “she had pulled to the curb near her residence and was sitting in her car when she observed a car pull up, saw someone get out of the car and then, after the car left, saw the dogs tied to a pole.” She allegedly told Det. Marsden that “she had no idea until told by a friend that the dogs were Lady Gaga’s dogs” and that she emailed Lady Gaga’s people a photo of the dogs and subsequently agreed to meet them at the police station.
McBride’s story proved to be a critical early lead. When Det. Marsden reviewed video footage from surveillance cameras in the area where McBride said she found the dogs, it showed McBride “walking up and down both sides of the street looking around in both directions” while “holding a cell phone in each hand,” Hanisee wrote in her filing.
The dogs were then seen being dropped off by a person driving a Jeep Gladiator with a clearly visible license plate, the paperwork said. When investigators tracked down the vehicle, they discovered it had been rented from an Avis Budget store by a woman named in the paperwork but hasn’t been charged in the case. A check of the woman’s phone record turned up multiple calls with a man named Harold White the day after the dognapping and attempted murder, the filing revealed. Harold White, 41, is the father of alleged dognapper Jaylin White, 20, authorities say.
A subsequent check of White’s social media accounts turned up evidence he and McBride communicated on an Instagram thread on March 20, 2021, almost a month after the dogs were returned, and also exchanged messages and attempted at least one video call over Facebook in late 2020.
“Merry Christmas,” McBride allegedly wrote to Harold White over Facebook on Dec. 25, 2020.
“Merry xmas baby,” he purportedly responded.
“Have a good day with ur family. I’m glad 2. U looking happier,” she replied, according to records obtained through a search warrant and attached as an exhibit.
More search warrants established that Jaylin White’s phone was pinging off cell towers “in the immediate area” of where he, Jackson and third suspect Lafayette Whaley, 27, allegedly accosted Fischer as he was walking Lady Gaga’s three French bulldogs along Sierra Bonita Avenue in Hollywood.
Prosecutors say Whaley was behind the wheel of the car that started following Fischer once the trio noticed he was walking three French bulldogs, an expensive breed known for its high resale value. Whaley allegedly turned the car’s lights off and drove up next to Fischer once he “walked down a more secluded street,” the October indictment obtained by Rolling Stone said. Prosecutors say it was Jackson and Jaylin White who then jumped out of the car and punched and choked Fischer before Jackson allegedly used a semiautomatic to shoot Fischer in the chest. Fischer was left bleeding on the sidewalk with one of Lady Gaga’s dogs as his assailants fled the scene with the other two, Koji and Gustav.
Whaley and Jaylin White were ordered to stand trial on attempted murder and robbery charges after a preliminary hearing last year. Jackson, McBride and Harold White were the three remaining suspects indicted by the grand jury.
After their arrests, Jackson and Jaylin White were allegedly recorded discussing the crime while in custody, according to Hanisee’s filing last week “They got everybody,” Jaylin White purportedly said in the transcript attached to the prosecutor’s filing. “Me, you, face the fat bitch, Jenn.”
“It is beyond belief that that McBride, a friend of the father of one of the robbers, coincidentally found the stolen dogs near her home, miles from Harold White’s home. The possibility of the events being a bizarre coincidence is eliminated by the fact that the dogs were driven to the location in a vehicle rented by another friend of Harold White,” Hanisee wrote.
“Given the extreme unlikelihood of such coincidences, the reasonable inference to be made from the evidence is that McBride knew that someone would be driving the dogs to her location and was ready and waiting to collect them. Had she lacked knowledge about the origin of the dogs or their theft, she would have had no reason to lie to police about the circumstances in which they came into her possession,” Hanisee argued. “The lies to the police had no obvious purpose other than to hide her knowledge that the dogs were stolen and to protect the son of her friend from being arrested as the robber.”
While McBride’s defense lawyer Michael Becker argued in his Jan. 21 motion that McBride “never sought or requested a reward” and that there was no evidence McBride “even knew specifically what occurred or who did what prior to the animals coming into her possession,” Judge Richard Kemalyan sided with prosecutors Thursday and denied McBride’s request to set aside her indictment.
“I find that the evidence presented at the grand jury [was] sufficient to support the indictment on both counts,” Judge Kemalyan said at the morning hearing.
Hanisee, meanwhile, had argued that while McBride didn’t formally request the reward, she also didn’t refuse it. She suggested in her paperwork that “the lure of half-a-million dollars was enough” for the defendants in the case to “risk getting caught” by contacting Lady Gaga’s camp directly instead of simply turning “the dogs loose on the street.”
The suspects in the case are due back in court for pre-trial hearings next month. Lady Gaga was not called to testify before the grand jury, but Fischer provided testimony.
Fischer spoke about the attack in detail last year to Rolling Stone and had previously recounted his “very close call with death” in an Instagram post. “I am humbled and grateful that attention and focus from the police were enough to get Koji and Gustav back to safety, and I know they are committed to bringing these criminals and attempted murderers to justice,” he said.