08/19/2009 AT 6:30 PM ET
Nearly five months ago, Ryan Alexander Jenkins, a contestant on Megan Wants a Millionaire and I Love Money 3 – and a real-life millionaire from Canada – impulsively married Playboy model Jasmine Fiore in Las Vegas.
Their move to Los Angeles, with the blond and buxom Fiore, 28, hoping to work in real estate or as a personal trainer while Jenkins, 32, traveled North America competing for money and another woman’s attentions, could have been a reality show of its own.
But now the story has taken a deadly turn from escapist television fare: Fiore has been murdered, the Millionaire show has been pulled off the air, and Jenkins is an international fugitive.
“Her death is a tragedy,” Buena Park, Calif., police Lt. Gary Worrall tells PEOPLE. “Our investigators have been working around the clock. Many of them haven’t slept in a while.”
Body in a Dumpster
It began, police say, when a nude female body was found stuffed in a suitcase in a Dumpster behind an apartment complex in Buena Park, an Orange County suburb south of Los Angeles, on Saturday, Aug. 15. That night, Jenkins called the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to report Fiore missing, and by Monday the Orange County coroner confirmed the victim as Fiore, apparently strangled.
Now, police in the United States and Canada are scrambling to find Jenkins, a Calgary real estate salesman considered a “person of interest” in the murder.
“We are aware that he is from Canada and there’s a potential for him to go there,” says Worrall. “We’re concerned he might flee the country.”
Worrall says that he was aware of some media reports that a representative for Jenkins promises he’ll turn himself in; however, the police have received no such offer.
Although not a familiar face, Jenkins does live on the fringes of fame. Worth over $2 million, he appears in the current season of VH1’s Megan Wants a Millionaire, in which wealthy suitors compete for the affections of Megan Hauserman a young lady with expensive tastes who has appeared on previous VH1 series Rock of Love 2, Charm School and I Love Money.
Show Goes Off the Air
In last weekend’s episode, Jenkins won a one-on-one date with Megan, drove her in an Aston Marin DBS Coupe to an intimate dinner – and picked up the $1,500 tab. The pair also shared a passionate kiss. A “battle royale” between the finalists was scheduled to air this weekend.
But on Wednesday, VH1 had shut down most of their Web content connected with both shows, and pulled Megan Wants a Millionaire off the air.
“Given the unfortunate circumstances, VH1 has postponed any future airings. This is a tragic situation and our thoughts go out to the victim’s family,” says a statement from the network.
According to some media reports, Jenkins won $250,000 on I Love Money, in March. At around the same time, Jenkins met Fiore at a strip club, and the two were married two days later – on March 18, according to the Clark County, Nev., Recorder’s Office (although Fiore’s mother told reporters she doesn’t believe a legitimate marriage took place.)
A Plea for Public’s Help
Fiore, who also goes by the name Jasmine Kinkade, has modeled for radio personality Howard Stern, for Las Vegas hotels and for Playboy. Her mother told reporters her daughter also was interested in selling real estate and starting a personal training business.
Jenkins and Fiore were living in Los Angeles at the time of the murder. Worrall says he knows little about the nature of their relationship – only that they were last seen together Friday evening at a poker tournament in San Diego.
According to TMZ, Fiore texted an ex-boyfriend that evening, offering to meet him in Las Vegas. Later that evening, the ex got another text from Fiore’s phone that said: “Suck it.” The site also reports that Jenkins was convicted in 2007 of assaulting his girlfriend at the time.
For now, though, the case is a manhunt, with police calling for the public’s help in finding the reality star fugitive or a luxury car he may be driving: Fiore’s white Mercedes CLS550, with custom black trim including a black logo, or Jenkins’s own black BMW X5.
Additional reporting by BRENDA RODRIGUEZ