A Calgary real-estate agent and reality-TV contestant is being sought by police in southern California in connection with the death of former swimsuit model Jasmine Fiore, whom he married earlier this year in Las Vegas.
Ms. Fiore was last seen alive on Aug. 13 at a party in San Diego, which she attended with Ryan Alexander Jenkins, 32, her former husband. Nevada records show the pair married in March. The woman's mother, Lisa Lepore, said the marriage was annulled in May, although they later got back together.
Around 7 a.m. the next day, a body was found in a "very large suitcase" inside a dumpster in Buena Park, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb about 150 kilometres from the scene of the party, Buena Park police lieutenant Gary Worrall said. The suitcase was found by a man rummaging for recyclables. Preliminary indications are that the victim was strangled.
Later that afternoon, Mr. Jenkins walked into a Los Angeles County Sheriff's office in West Hollywood and reported Ms. Fiore missing.
"He came to the station and provided a picture, gave a report," Lt. Worrall said. Officers called around, eventually connecting the body in the dumpster with the missing woman. "At that point, we were able to put the two together that their missing was our deceased person."
But Mr. Jenkins had left the sheriff's office by then. Police haven't been able to track him down, and yesterday said the Canadian was a "person of interest" in the model's death.
"At this point, there's nothing we can point to that would make him a suspect in the crime, but he was the last person seen with her while she was alive, he reported her missing subsequent to her death, and we've been unable to contact him, which is suspicious to us," Lt. Worrall said. "We, of course, are concerned that he might go to Canada."
TMZ.com quoted Mr. Jenkins' publicist saying he is "currently speaking to his attorney and will fully co-operate with the police in this matter. He is planning on meeting with them in the near future."
Buena Park police said Mr. Jenkins may have been driving Ms. Fiore's car, possibly with his Alberta license plates. RCMP in Calgary have been alerted, but won't arrest anyone until a warrant is issued. With no warrant, Mr. Jenkins was last night free to cross into Canada, RCMP Sergeant Patrick Webb said.
"It all depends on whether the steps have been done yet about if there's a warrant on his arrest," Sgt. Webb said.
Gossip and celebrity websites were buzzing Wednesday with the news that Mr. Jenkins - a contestant on Megan Wants a Millionaire , in which a woman vies for the affections of purportedly wealthy men to become a "trophy wife," and reportedly on I Love Money 3 - was being sought in connection with the death of Ms. Fiore, a former Playboy employee. TMZ reported that Ms. Fiore sent a crude text message to a former boyfriend the night of her death, and that Mr. Jenkins had won I Love Money and earned $250,000, although the series hasn't aired.
In his profile for the show, Mr. Jenkins took the nickname "Smooth Operator," listed his worth at $2.5-million, and said he turned "player girls" into "princesses" and cheated on a woman only when he wanted to break up with her. VH1 yesterday scrapped the remaining episodes of Megan, "given the unfortunate circumstances," a statement said.
In Calgary, Mr. Jenkins' cell phone has been disconnected. Websites for two of the companies he said he was involved in - Concrete Equities and Townscape Developments - are offline. The listed number for a third is a real estate firm, where a woman said Mr. Jenkins left in April.
He'd been profiled in a local newspaper when he got into the real estate business, following in the footsteps of his father, Dan Jenkins, a Calgary architect.
"Ryan is Dan's son, but he has nothing to do with any of Dan's companies. And he did not work for us," a woman answering the phone at the father's firm said yesterday. "He's got absolutely nothing to do with our company."
She said the elder Mr. Jenkins was out of the country.
Ms. Lepore told the Associated Press that Mr. Jenkins had his eye on making it big in Hollywood when he met her daughter, a former model who the news service reported did an ad for Howard Stern's radio show.
"He had stars in his eyes," she said. "He was totally jazzed, like, being a star."