Canadian police say hunted reality TV star found dead of apparent suicide in Canada

Monday, August 24, 2009

Police: Reality TV star found dead

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A reality show contestant wanted for murder in the gruesome death of his ex-wife was found dead Sunday of an apparent suicide after hanging himself in a secluded Canadian motel, authorities said.

Sgt. Duncan Pound of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police border integrity unit said police responded to a call from hotel staff about about a dead person in Hope, east of Vancouver, and then called investigators who were part of the massive manhunt for Jenkins.

The real estate developer and investor was wanted in California on first-degree murder charges after the mutilated body of Jasmine Fiore was found in a trash bin in Buena Park, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles.

Jenkins apparently hanged himself, said Farrah Emami, spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office in California, which is contact with Canadian police.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are “now able to confirm that a deceased person that was found in a motel in Hope, British Columbia is, in fact, Ryan Jenkins,” Pound said.

“At this present time the investigation into the circumstances of his death is continuing, but preliminary evidence suggests that he took his own life. Any further details will not be released at this time as this investigation remains in its infancy.”

Pound said police don’t yet know how long Jenkins was at the motel before his body was discovered. Jenkins was identified through fingerprints, he said.

Jenkins’ body was found in The Thunderbird Motel on an isolated road on the outskirts of Hope, B.C. at the entrance to the western province’s mountainous interior. His body was found in a room at the out-of-the-way motel.

The Thunderbird was surrounded by police with a coroner’s van, said Marc Lojeski who works at the nearby Lucky Strike Motel.

Michelle Beck, who lives near the motel, said people who stay at the motel are “kind of seedy - lots of drugs addicts and people down on their luck.”

Hope is about 160 km (100 miles) — or a two-hour drive from Point Roberts, Washington state — the last place Jenkins was reported to have been seen before he crossed into Canada.

Pound said his body was found Sunday afternoon and that they confirmed just before 5 p.m. local time that it was Jenkins. He said his family was notified before police went public with news.

Jenkins, 32, disappeared last week but his boat was found Wednesday at a marina not far from the U.S.-Canada border south of Vancouver.

Fiore’s teeth had been pulled out and her fingers cut off, apparently to impede her identification. Investigators used the serial numbers on her breast implants to identify her, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

After the U.S. Justice Department issued an extradition request, Canada issued a nation-wide warrant for Jenkins’ arrest. Canadian authorities initially launched a massive border search using helicopters, ground police and dogs.

Jenkins and Fiore met in Las Vegas in March and they married a few weeks later. The couple separated shortly afterward, but had reportedly recently reconciled.

A cell phone message left with Fiore’s mother, Lisa Lepore of Maui, Hawaii, was not immediately returned.

California authorities said police in Buena Park where Fiore was found would continue their investigation to make sure no one else was involved in the killing, but did not expect to find anything.

“We continue to believe that Mr. Jenkins was solely responsible,” said Emami, spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

The British Columbia Coroner’s Service is investigating Jenkins’ death and police are trying to determine how he got to Hope.

Friends said Fiore was a model who worked mainly in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, doing gigs such as being bodypainted at parties. She also was an aspiring actress and had a bit part in a small 2008 horror science-fiction movie, “The Abandoned,” according to the Internet Movie Database.

Jenkins was recently a contestant on VH1 reality show “Megan Wants a Millionaire,” in which wealthy young men tried to win over a materialistic blonde. The network canceled the show Friday.

Fiore’s mother told The Associated Press earlier this week that her daughter had the marriage annulled in May. However, there were no court records of an annulment in either Nevada, where the couple was married, or in Los Angeles County, where they most recently lived.

After taping for “Megan Wants a Millionaire” finished in early March, Jenkins met Fiore in a Las Vegas casino and the two got married, said Lepore, Fiore’s mother. Court records show the date of marriage as March 18.

But in May “they had a big blowout” and fought because he was jealous of her ex-boyfriends, Lepore said.

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.”

Jenkins also was a participant in an as-yet-unaired competitive reality series, “I Love Money 3.” A VH1 spokesman said no decision has been made on whether or not to run the show.

A resume posted on the professional networking site says Jenkins had a license to fly commercial airplanes and dabbled in several development enterprises and investments since graduating from college in 1999. Those include Townscape Development Inc., a condo project undertaken in Calgary with his father, architect Daniel Jenkins.

Court records showed Jenkins was charged in June in Nevada 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.

Prosecutors said the Jenkins and Fiore checked into a San Diego hotel Aug. 13, and Jenkins checked out the next morning. Fiore was not seen alive again.

Gillies reported from Toronto and Associated Press Writer Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

will not be displayed