Reward offered for reality TV star in model death
BUENA PARK, Calif. — A reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of a reality TV contestant accused of killing an ex-model, removing her teeth and fingers, and stuffing her body in a suitcase.
The U.S. Marshals Service on Friday said up to $25,000 will be paid for information on Ryan Alexander Jenkins, who may be in his native Canada.
Jenkins, who appeared on the show “Megan Wants a Millionaire,” is charged with murdering Jasmine Fiore. The nude body of the Los Angeles woman was found in an Orange County trash bin on Saturday.
Authorities say Jenkins may have traveled more than 1,000 miles to reach his native Canada, where authorities are conducting a manhunt.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
BUENA PARK, Calif. (AP) — U.S. and Canadian authorities pressed their manhunt Friday for a reality TV contestant charged with killing a former swimsuit model and removing her teeth and fingers. 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.
Jenkins, 32, apparently disfigured 28-year-old Jasmine Fiore to impede authorities in identifying the naked body, which was found Saturday stuffed in a suitcase in a California trash bin.
A preliminary coroner’s report indicated Fiore was strangled.
Fiore and Jenkins were briefly married in 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.
Buena Park police Lt. Steve Holliday said Jenkins is possibly armed with a handgun. Prosecutors recommended a bail of $10 million upon his arrest and said he had significant resources to finance his flight.
“Anyone helping Mr. Jenkins hide from the police may go to prison themselves,” said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
On the reality 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 he also has a license to fly commercial airplanes.
Jenkins is believed to have driven to Washington state and possibly hopped in a boat to a peninsula on the border, where he walked into Canadian territory.
A car and empty boat trailer belonging to Jenkins were found at a marina in the northwest Washington town of Blaine.
“We’ll look under every rock for him,” U.S. Marshal Chief Inspector Thomas Hession said.
In California, police detectives twice visited the luxury San Diego boutique hotel where the couple had stayed. Authorities spent three to four hours there Monday and returned Wednesday for about two hours, said Michael Slosser, vice president and managing director of L’Auberge Del Mar. Rooms at the hotel range from $350 to $3,000 a night.
Slosser doesn’t believe Fiore was killed at L’Auberge.
“It’s very unlikely that it happened here. I can’t talk about the specifics,” he said.
After taping for “Megan Wants a Millionaire” finished in early March, Jenkins met Fiore in a Las Vegas casino and the two got married 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.
“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 that would allow Canadian authorities to take Jenkins into custody. California could then 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.
Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman with the Orange County district attorney’s office, said the death penalty was not being pursued in the case.
Court records show 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 was set to be tried in December.
In his hometown of Calgary, Jenkins was sentenced to 15 months probation in January 2007 on an unspecified assault charge. 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.
VH1 said the reality show was an outside production licensed to VH1 by 51 Minds Entertainment.
51 Minds said Jenkins never would have been accepted for its show if the company had known of his criminal history.
Associated Press writers Rob 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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