Police: Slain model’s fingers, teeth were removed
BUENA PARK, Calif. — Police on the hunt for a reality TV contestant charged with the gruesome murder of his ex-wife were continuing to search the U.S.-Canadian border after the woman’s relatives pleaded with his friends and family not to help “an animal” evade capture.
Ryan Alexander Jenkins, a Calgary, Alberta, native, was a contestant on the VH1 series “Megan Wants a Millionaire,” about a woman seeking to land a wealthy bachelor.
Police said Thursday that Jenkins, 32, removed the teeth and fingers of 28-year-old Jasmine Fiore, presumably to impede authorities in their efforts to identify the naked body, which was found stuffed in a suitcase in a California trash bin over the weekend.
Fiore, a former swimsuit model, and Jenkins were briefly married after a quickie Las Vegas wedding this year, and had been fighting in recent months. Prosecutors said the two checked into a San Diego hotel last Thursday, and Jenkins checked out the next morning. Fiore was not seen alive again.
Friends and family members, including Fiore’s mother, sobbed at a news conference Thursday as a former boyfriend begged for help in capturing Jenkins.
“This message goes out to the family, his mother and father and to the friends that are helping him try to leave this country. Ryan Jenkins is an animal, what he has done to Jasmine is unspeakable and it’s just not right and I’d appreciate your help,” said Robert Hasman, Fiore’s former boyfriend.
Jenkins vanished after Fiore’s body was found Saturday stuffed in a blood-stained suitcase and Buena Park police Lt. Steve Holliday said he’s possibly armed with a handgun. A preliminary coroner’s report indicated Fiore was strangled.
Prosecutors recommended a bail of $10 million for Jenkins upon arrest and said he had significant resources to finance his flight.
On the show, Jenkins was identified as an investment banker who had a couple million dollars.
A resume posted on the professional networking site LinkedIn.com says Jenkins has a license to fly commercial airplanes and worked in investment sales and as president of a boutique development company focused on cutting-edge green technologies.
“Anyone helping Mr. Jenkins hide from the police may go to prison themselves,” said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
Jenkins is believed to have driven 1,000 miles to Washington state and then hopped in a boat to a peninsula on the border, where he walked into Canadian territory. A Canadian police official said ground, air and canine units are involved in the search for Jenkins.
“At this time, although we believe he crossed the border, we’re not one hundred percent sure of that,” U.S. Marshal Chief Inspector Thomas Hession said. “There will be no stone unturned and we’ll look under every rock for him.”
A car and empty boat trailer belonging to Jenkins were found at a marina in the remote northwest Washington town of Blaine.
Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputies received a report Wednesday that a man matching Jenkins’ description arrived by boat at Point Roberts, Wash., about 10 miles from Blaine at the tip of a peninsula. The point is reachable by land only from Canada, and Jenkins is believed to have walked across the border from there.
Canadian Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan said police agencies across Canada are on the lookout for Jenkins.
After taping for “Megan Wants a Millionaire” finished in early March, Jenkins met Fiore in Las Vegas casino and the two got married on March 18, said Fiore’s mother, Lisa Lepore.
But in May, “they had a big blowout,” and fought because he was jealous of her ex-boyfriends, Lepore said. “She had the marriage annulled.”
Jenkins then went to Mexico to do another reality TV show, but struggled to get Fiore back when he returned. It was not immediately clear which show he appeared on.
“He convinced her during that month that he was really the guy for her,” Lepore said. “He wrote poems and stories, and prayed, and (claimed he) had this huge spiritual awakening.”
The federal government was issuing a federal warrant, which would allow Canadian authorities to take Jenkins into custody there, Capt. Ken Coovert said. If Jenkins is arrested in Canada, California can request that he be extradited to the U.S., but only with reassurances from U.S. authorities that he would not face the death penalty.
Farad Emami, a spokeswoman with the Orange County district attorney’s office, said her office had not yet discussed whether to pursue the death penalty.
Court records show that Jenkins was charged in June in Clark County, Nev., with a misdemeanor count of “battery constituting domestic violence” for allegedly hitting Fiore in the arm and will be tried in December.
Jenkins also has a criminal history in his hometown of Calgary. He was sentenced to 15 months of probation in January 2007 on an unspecified assault charge, according to the Alberta, Canada Ministry of Justice. No further details were available.
Neal Tomlinson, a partner at the law firm representing Jenkins in the Nevada case, did not return an e-mail seeking comment sent after business hours Thursday. He declined to comment earlier in the week.
Jenkins reported Fiore missing Saturday night to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, police said.
VH1 said it has postponed any future airings of the show. The statement also said that the show was an outside production licensed to VH1, but that it was produced and owned by 51 Minds Entertainment.
51 Minds said in a statement that Jenkins never would have been accepted for its show if the company had known of his past criminal history.
Associated Press writers Robert Gillies in Toronto, Jeremy Hainsworth in Vancouver, Robert Jablon and Raquel Maria Dillon in Los Angeles and Doug Esser in Seattle contributed to this report.
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