Hunted reality TV star found dead in motel
Reality show contestant Ryan Jenkins' life ended in a way that could have been scripted for TV: as police investigated the murder suspect's suicide at a secluded Canadian motel, word came on Monday that a mysterious young woman had checked him in there.world Updated: Aug 24, 2009 14:18 IST
Reality show contestant Ryan Jenkins' life ended in a way that could have been scripted for TV: as police investigated the murder suspect's suicide at a secluded Canadian motel, word came on Monday that a mysterious young woman had checked him in there.
Accused of the gruesome death of his ex-wife, a model whose body was so badly mutilated it had to be identified by her breast implants' serial numbers, Jenkins 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 known for its giant wooden carvings made with chainsaws and as the site of the first bloody Rambo movie.
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.
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 (32 kilometers) 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.
Kevin Walker, who manages the Thunderbird Motel, said Jenkins and the mystery woman arrived on Thursday in a Chrysler PT Cruiser with tinted windows and license plates from Alberta, Jenkins' home province. He stayed in the car while the woman checked them in, he said.
She was blonde, in her early 20s and "naturally pretty, one of those wholesome little ladies," he said.
Adam Curt, 19, a motel employee and Walker's nephew, said Jenkins "looked stressed out," said. "He wouldn't look anybody in the eye."
Walker said he didn't recognise the man although Jenkin's face had been all over the news.
"In no way shape or form did he look like the man on TV," he said. "He looked spent."
The motel manager said the woman paid cash for three nights and when the couple didn't check out, he unlocked the room and found him dead.
"I cracked the door and there he was, hanging there in front of me, feet touching" the floor, Walker said. "He definitely wanted to die. I smelt death."
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."
Police carried out bags of Jenkins' belongings, including his laptop computer, Walker said.
Hope is about 100 miles (160 kilometers) 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. The British Columbia Coroner's Service is also investigating Jenkins' death and police are trying to determine how he got to Hope. After Jenkins disappeared last week, his boat was found Wednesday at a marina not far from the U.S.-Canada border south of Vancouver. Canadian authorities launched a massive border search using helicopters, ground police and dogs.
"The ring was tightening on him," Tom Hession, chief inspector for the US 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 reconciled.
A cell phone message left with Fiore's mother, Lisa Lepore of Maui, Hawaii, was not immediately returned.
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 fought because he was jealous of her ex-boyfriends, Lepore said.
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.
Jenkins had been charged with allegedly hitting Fiore in the arm recently, court records showed.
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 never seen alive again.