BUENA PARK, Calif. — Ryan Alexander Jenkins was fulfilling his dream of becoming a star, with a small fortune stowed away, a marriage – albeit brief – to a former model, and two gigs in reality TV.
But his image was splashed on Web sites and TV news shows around the world Wednesday for another reason: He is wanted for questioning in the death of his former wife, whose nude body was found in a suitcase in a trash bin in Orange County over the weekend.
The death of 28-year-old Jasmine Fiore followed a stormy relationship with Jenkins that seemed ready-made for the tabloids – complete with a quickie Las Vegas wedding that was followed by an annulment a few weeks later.
Police said Jenkins, 32, is a "person of interest" in her death, and may be heading for his native Canada. The victim's mother said Fiore and Jenkins had been fighting, and that he was jealous of her ex-boyfriends.
Court records show Jenkins was charged in June in Clark County, Nev., with a misdemeanor count of "battery constituting domestic violence" on accusations that he hit Fiore in the arm. He is scheduled for a Dec. 18 non-jury trial.
In January 2007, Jenkins was sentenced to 15 months of probation in his hometown of Calgary, Canada, on an unspecified assault charge, according to the Alberta Ministry of Justice. No further details were available.
Neal Tomlinson, a partner at the law firm representing Jenkins in the Nevada case, declined to comment and declined to say if his firm was representing Jenkins in the current matter.
Fiore was last seen alive with Jenkins at a poker game in San Diego. Jenkins reported her missing Saturday night to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, police said.
"At this point, he's merely a person of interest, simply because of the suspiciousness of his disappearance. We can't find him," Buena Park Lt. Gary Worral said.
"We find it suspicious that with all the media coverage that he has not made himself available to us," he said.
It's still not clear how Fiore died, although a preliminary coroner's report indicated she was strangled.
Jenkins, variously described as an architect, real estate developer and investment banker from Calgary, appeared in three episodes of the VH1 reality series "Megan Wants a Millionaire," about a woman seeking to land a wealthy bachelor by putting suitors through their paces, such as designing a marketing campaign for her pet chihuahua.
On the show, Jenkins was identified as an investment banker who had a couple million dollars.
Fiore and Jenkins met in March at a Las Vegas casino where Jenkins was partying after wrapping up "Millionaire," said Fiore's mother, Lisa Lepore. And in typical Las Vegas fashion, they got married there on March 18, according to a Clark County marriage certificate.
It was a spontaneous marriage, "right after they met, one of those wild things," Lepore said. But it soon went south.
In May, "they had a big blowout. She had the marriage annulled," she said.
"She didn't trust him because he was doing (things) behind her back," she said.
"He did everything that she asked him not to do," Lepore said. "She got furious." The mother declined, however, to say what the incident involved.
Jenkins then went to Mexico to do another reality TV show, but struggled to get Fiore back when he returned. It was not immediately clear which show he appeared on.
"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."
Fiore was identified as a swimsuit model by police. She also worked for the Playboy organization about four years ago promoting its golfing events, spokeswoman Theresa Hennessey said. "She never posed in the magazine," she said.
However, her mother said Fiore gave up modeling about two years ago. She moved from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, obtained a real estate license and planned to become a broker, Lepore said. She was also about to open a gym and personal training business with a friend, her mother said.
She shut down her modeling Web site and legally changed her name to Kinkade to separate herself from the past, Lepore said. She had broken up in December or early this year with her fiance, a wealthy real estate broker she had been seeing for about three years, Lepore said.
Then in March she met Jenkins, who was proud to show off his "Millionaire" episodes.
He appeared in three episodes. "Those three episodes have already aired and there won't be any repeats at this time," said VH1 spokesman Scott Acord.
Although she met him only briefly, Lepore said she would not be surprised if Jenkins was named as a suspect in her daughter's death. She said the two often fought, and that her daughter was not one to back down.
"I think he got insanely jealous because she's really good friends with all her ex-boyfriends," she said in a telephone interview from her daughter's apartment in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles.
Jenkins telephoned Lepore on Monday to say her daughter had vanished and that he had filed a missing person report, she said. "He told me Jasmine dropped him off at the apartment (that weekend) and went to do errands," she said.
Jenkins had his eyes on Hollywood, Lepore said.
"He had stars in his eyes," she said. "He was totally jazzed, like, being a star."
Associated Press writer Robert Jablon reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press Writers Gillian Flaccus in Tustin, Calif., Ken Ritter in Las Vegas and Raquel Maria Dillon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.