Did Megan Want a Killer Millionaire?

09/26/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Robin Sax Attorney, Law Offices of Robin Sax, victim advocate, legal commentator

As I read the LA Timesthis week about the snafus that VH1 made in selecting Jasmine Fiore's (alleged) killer, Ryan Jenkins, as a contestant on Megan Wants a Millionaire, I wondered how these background check "snafus" keep happening time and time again.

VH1 blamed it on "clerical" errors. This is the third story of "clerical" errors in the LA Times in one month in connection to a tragic death: Lily Burke, Dea'Von Bailey, and now Jasmine Fiore.

The two shows Jenkins appeared on as a contestant were Megan Wants a Millionaire and I Love Money 3, both VH1reality TV shows. Both have now been canceled. According to TMZ, Jenkins finished filming I Love Money 3 about a month ago in Mexico, and walked away with the $250,000 prize!

Authorities in Orange County, California, charged him Aug. 20 with Jasmine Fiore's murder five days after her mutilated body was found in a suitcase in a trash bin. Jenkins, 32, was found dead, hanged, in a Canadian motel room on Aug. 24

The production company, 51 Minds, which is behind Megan Wants a Millionaire and I Love Money 3, told People Magazine that it was "not aware" of Jenkins's record when he was cast on the shows. The company also said it ran background checks on all the contestants.

Really? Then how could they not find his criminal background information? What kind of background check did they run? Criminal history can be found using Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers or other types of identification that are routinely used to find background information.

In fact, Jenkins was on record for domestic abuse in the state of Nevada. According to Clark County records Ryan Jenkins was arrested in late April and charged with committing "battery constituting domestic violence" against Jasmine Fiore. The complaint states Jenkins struck Fiore "in the arm with his fist." He was due to return to court Dec. 18, 2009 for a non-jury trial.

The Associated Press reported that Jenkins had been in another assault incident. This time, he was arrested in Calgary, Alberta and sentenced to 15 months probation in January 2007, according to the Alberta, Canada Ministry of Justice.

How could the 51 Minds people not find these arrests!?

Dan Jenkins, Ryan's father, spoke out on Aug. 24, telling The Los Angeles Times "the boy we knew was not capable of anything remotely close to this act." Most family members feel that way about their children when they're accused of a brutal murder. If the family couldn't have guessed their son would do something like that, the producers of the reality show probably wouldn't have guessed it, either.

And THAT is the reason for extensive background checks!

Here's another important point to make: if Ryan Jenkins hadn't appeared on the reality show based on his criminal background, Jasmine Fiore might still be alive today. She wouldn't have known he was a "public figure" of sorts -- since he'd appeared on a well-known reality TV show.

Abbey Simmons on Buddy TV aptly summarized my views in her post:

Jenkins' participation (and success) in not one, but two VH1 reality shows elevates the long-running questions about VH1's casting practices for their reality shows. (VH1's casting and production is handled by an outside company, 51 Minds.) They've always seemed trashy, but now they seem downright dangerous. When the best thing that could happen to you on a VH1 reality show is making out with the likes of Bret Michaels, fighting for Flava-Flav, or attempting to purchase Megan Hausserman's affection -- one has to wonder...

And wondering is something that we all are doing.

"Sh*t happens," as they say, but geez, Louise, when are people going to start doing the necessary work to ensure that wife-beaters-turned-killers don't make it onto reality shows, or that three-strikers are entered as three-strikers and convicted as such.

Just as opponents of the death penalty say that one wrong death of an innocent person is too many to risk imposing such high sanctions as the death penalty, I wish that philosophy applied to the job that clerks are supposed to be doing. What kind of accountability is expected of clerks, producers, DCFS workers, and the like?

And what type of deterrents, checks and balances are in place to make sure that innocent people don't get hurt or killed? Clearly, it's time that we as society say "no" to mediocrity and hold those who slack off, letting potential killers slip through the system, accountable for lives that are lost or injured as a result of "clerical errors."