BUENA PARK, Calif. — A reality TV contestant was charged with murder Thursday in the death of his ex-wife as the manhunt for the suspect spread to Canada and police provided gruesome new details about the killing.
Police said Ryan Alexander Jenkins removed the teeth and fingers of Jasmine Fiore, presumably to impede authorities in their efforts to identify the naked body after it was found stuffed in a suitcase in a California trash bin over the weekend.
The former swimsuit model and Jenkins were briefly married after a quickie Las Vegas wedding this year, and had been fighting in recent months. Prosecutors said the two checked into a San Diego hotel Aug. 13, and Jenkins checked out the next morning. Fiore was not seen alive again.
He reported her missing Saturday night and then vanished after the body was found. Authorities suspect he drove 1,000 miles to Washington state and then hopped in a boat to a peninsula on the border, where he walked into Canadian territory. Canadian police said ground, air and canine units are involved in the search.
"At this time, although we believe he crossed the border, we're not one hundred percent sure of that," U.S. Marshal Chief Inspector Thomas Hession said. "There will be no stone unturned and we'll look under every rock for him." Buena Park police Lt. Steve Holliday said he's possibly armed with a handgun.
A car and empty boat trailer belonging to the 32-year-old Calgary, Alberta native were found at a marina in the remote northwest Washington town of Blaine.
Whatcom County Sheriff's deputies received a report Wednesday that a man matching Jenkins' description arrived by boat at Point Roberts, Wash., about 10 miles from Blaine at the tip of a peninsula. The point is reachable by land only from Canada, and Jenkins is believed to have walked across the border from there.
Canadian Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan said police agencies across Canada are on the lookout for Jenkins.
Jenkins was a contestant on the VH1 reality TV show "Megan Wants a Millionaire."
After taping for the VH1 series finished in early March, Jenkins met 28-year-old Fiore in Las Vegas casino and the two got married on March 18, said Fiore's mother, Lisa Lepore.
But in May, the two were fighting because he was jealous of her ex-boyfriends, Lepore said. "She had the marriage annulled."
Fiore's ex-boyfriend, Robert Hasman, urged Jenkins' friends and family to help police find him.
"Ryan Jenkins is an animal, what he has done to Jasmine is unspeakable and it's just not right and I'd appreciate your help," Hasman said at a news conference.
The federal government was issuing a federal warrant which Canadian authorities can use to detain him on the murder charges, Buena Park Police Capt. Ken Coovert said.
If Jenkins is apprehended north of the border, authorities there could extradict him but only with assurances that he would not face the death penalty. Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman with the Orange County district attorney's office, said the death penalty issue hasn't been addressed yet.
Prosecutors recommended a bail of $10 million.
"Mr. Jenkins is considered dangerous, possibly armed, and has the financial means to hide anywhere in the world," said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. "Anyone helping Mr. Jenkins hide from the police may go to prison themselves."
Court records show that Jenkins was charged in June in Clark County, Nev., with a misdemeanor count of "battery constituting domestic violence" for allegedly hitting Fiore in the arm and will be tried in December.
Jenkins also has a criminal history in his hometown of Calgary, Canada. He was sentenced to 15 months of probation in January 2007 on an unspecified assault charge, according to the Alberta, Canada Ministry of Justice. No further details were available.
Neal Tomlinson, a partner at the law firm representing Jenkins in the Nevada case, did not return an e-mail seeking comment sent after business hours Thursday. He declined to comment earlier in the week.
A preliminary coroner's report indicated Fiore was strangled.
At least one actor who appeared on "Millionaire" with Jenkins at a mansion in the Hollywood Hills was shocked by the latest developments and remembered a suave bachelor who grew in confidence as taping progressed.
Jenkins earned the nickname "Smooth Operator" because of "his cheeky cockiness. And I mean that in a friendly way," said Rob Locke, who played the host, a butler named Niles.
"We were all under the impression that he was single. Then I saw on Facebook that he got married and there were photos of him and his wife. My personal observation was, 'Wow, that was quick,'" Locke said, adding that taping ended in March.
Jenkins, variously described as an architect, real estate developer and investment banker from Calgary, appeared in at least three episodes of the 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.
A resume posted on the professional networking site LinkedIn.com says Jenkins graduated from Mount Royal College in Calgary in 1999, has a license to fly commercial airplanes and worked in investment sales and as president of a boutique development company focused on cutting-edge green technologies.
VH1 said it has postponed any future airings of the show. The statement also said that the show was an outside production licensed to VH1, but that it was produced and owned by 51 Minds Entertainment.
51 Minds said in a statement that Jenkins never would have been accepted for its show if the company had known of his past criminal history.
Associated Press writers Robert Gillies in Toronto, Jeremy Hainsworth in Vancouver, Robert Jablon and Raquel Maria Dillon in Los Angeles, Ken Ritter in Las Vegas, Amy Taxin in Buena Park and Doug Esser in Seattle contributed to this report.