Wanted reality TV contestant found dead
Young woman checked in fugitive murder suspect, motel manager says
Wanted reality-TV contestant dead
Aug. 24: Former reality TV show contestant Ryan Jenkins, who was suspected in the gruesome murder of his ex-wife, has been found dead in a Canadian motel room. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.
‘Professional con man’
Aug. 24: TODAY’s Ann Curry talks to Lisa Lepore, the mother of Jasmine Fiore, the model allegedly killed by her ex-husband, reality TV contestant Ryan Jenkins.
HOPE, British Columbia - For Ryan Jenkins, life ended in a suicide in a remote Canadian motel room, and police who had sought the reality show contestant in the killing of his ex-wife hunted Monday for someone new: the mysterious woman who accompanied him to his lodgings.
Jenkins was accused of killing his ex-wife, a model whose body was so badly mutilated when found in a trash bin outside Los Angeles it had to be identified by her breast implants' serial numbers. He evaded a massive international manhunt for days as he crossed from California into his native Canada.
The dramatic end came at an isolated motel at the edge of British Columbia's mountainous interior, on the outskirts of Hope, a town with limited claims to fame as the place where the first Rambo movie was filmed and where residents make giant wooden carvings with chainsaws.
On Sunday evening, police responded to a call from motel staff about a dead person, and then called investigators who were part of the manhunt for Jenkins, said Sgt. Duncan Pound of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police border integrity unit.
The manager of The Thunderbird Motel and his nephew said they found Jenkins hanging from the bar of a coat rack by a belt. They said a young woman had checked him in to the two-story inn surrounded by trees.
Ex-wife found in trash bin
The 32-year-old real estate developer and investor was charged in California with first-degree murder Thursday after the dismembered body of Jasmine Fiore was found in a trash bin in Buena Park, about 20 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
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, Orange County prosecutors said.
On Monday, Fiore's mother, Lisa Lepore, said that she had a mixed reaction to news of Jenkins' death.
"It brings some closure to what's been going on," said Lepore, who lives in Maui, Hawaii. "We don't have to worry about looking for him anymore or being worried that he is a threat to any other women or men."
She added: "We still have a long process of closure."
Lepore spoke on NBC's TODAY show.
Late Sunday, the Thunderbird was surrounded by police with a coroner's van, said Marc Lojeski who works at the nearby Lucky Strike Motel.
Kevin Walker, who manages the Thunderbird Motel, said Jenkins arrived in a Chrysler PT Cruiser with Alberta license plates, and stayed in the car while the woman checked them in.
Walker said the woman paid cash for three days, and when the couple didn't check out, he unlocked the room and found him dead.
Michelle Beck, who lives near the motel, said people who stay there are "kind of seedy — lots of drugs addicts and people down on their luck."
Hope is about 100 miles from Point Roberts, Washington state, the last place Jenkins was reported to have been seen before he crossed into Canada.
"The sadness of this all is that Mr. Jenkins will not stand before an Orange County jury for his crime," Buena Park Police Lt. Steve Holiday said at a Sunday night press conference.
Holiday said his department's investigation would continue.
"There's additional information we're following up on," he said, but would not elaborate.
Jenkins disappeared last week and his boat was found Wednesday at a marina not far from the U.S.-Canada border south of Vancouver.
After the U.S. Justice Department issued an extradition request, Canada issued a nationwide warrant for Jenkins' arrest. Canadian authorities initially launched a massive border search using helicopters, ground police and dogs.
"The ring was tightening on him," Tom Hession, chief inspector for the U.S. Marshals Service's regional fugitive task force, said at the California news conference. "He obviously was desperate."
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.
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.
The two were married in a Las Vegas casino after taping for "Megan Wants a Millionaire" finished in early March, Lepore said. 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 LinkedIn.com 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.
Daniel Jenkins did not immediately return an e-mail seeking comment. Calls to Nada Jenkins, Ryan Jenkins' mother, were not returned.
'Battery constituting domestic violence'
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 Jenkins and Fiore checked into a San Diego hotel Aug. 13, and Jenkins checked out the next morning. Fiore was not seen alive again.
Ermami of the Orange County District Attorney's Office said it's unfortunate the hunt for Jenkins ended in death.
"Not only did the victim's family lose their loved one in a really brutal way — she was murdered and dismembered — but now the person who was charged with murdering her has avoided taking responsibility by apparently committing suicide," she said.
"So the family is going through a really terrible time right now and our hearts really go out to them."
Sad that this woman was slain and mutilated, but the irony of the breast implant ID was too juicy to let pass.