August 24th, 2009
04:25 PM ET

Murder suspect dead; Reality TV continues to roam free

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/08/23/california.model.death/art.jasmine.split.jpg caption="Police were hunting for Ryan Alexander Jenkins after the death of Jasmine Fiore."]

James Poniewozik

Ryan Jenkins, the reality-dating-show contestant suspected in the murder of his model ex-wife, turned up dead of an apparent suicide in a Canadian motel. I'd been loath to write about the story, because while Jenkins' appearance on VH1's Megan Wants a Millionaire (hands up, who heard of it before the murder case?) provided a news hook and flashy headlines, it seemed incidental to the actual crime. I didn't want to either trivialize the murder or feed into some sensationalistic idea that reality TV somehow turned Jenkins into a killer.

As the story went on, however, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there wasn't as much "Did reality TV drive him to kill?" coverage as I would have thought there might be. I suspect that five or six years ago it might have been different—back when reality TV was in full-on pop-culture-craze mode and was therefore more of a go-to social bogeyman.

Brian Stelter in the New York Times did do an interesting story on the Jenkins case, raising the question about whether VH1, and other reality show makers, do an adequate job of psychologically screening their casts. That's an important consideration, for the networks and for the well-being of the people who do their shows. The unsettling fact is that unstable people with aggressive natures or visions of grandeur are drawn to fame, and thus, to reality TV.

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soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Chris

    I know Ryan well. I was on "I Love Money 3" with him. This has upset us all but ruined alot of our careers. Our careers, however DO take a backseat to the tragic situation that both these families are going through, especially Jasmine.

    August 25, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  2. Mugenyi emmy

    What of if he killed him self than his wife? Some times its it looks like he was so upset.

    August 25, 2009 at 10:18 am |
  3. Joanne P.

    Suicide, as murder is never "the right thing". This is a sad story. The depths of mental illness is little examined in light of the fact that these ill-fated people were cast in a reality show.

    From what I have seen, the psychological screening is minimal. Producers looks for oddities, and stereotypes as participants in reality tv.

    August 25, 2009 at 10:13 am |
  4. JJ

    She reminds me of a Bratz doll.

    August 25, 2009 at 7:21 am |
  5. angela

    I agree this horrible thing can not be blamed on reality tv. He was just one sick man and he deserves hell. I was watching the show until they canceled it and he was very full of him self, he thought he was just the best thing that ever happened to woman and I have to say he was nice looking but his attitude made him ugly and he thought his money could buy anything and when he found a woman that did not want him he could not deal with it. It is a shame that he took her life because he could have found someone else to love him. Love is very sick these days...

    August 25, 2009 at 2:02 am |
  6. chinyere

    My condolences to both families

    However it does not make any sence to blame reality tv's I mean that is what is all about have nuts showcase themselves but to search/look into ourselves and re-evaluate the speed to which we pursue money, fame and the quest to remodel our bodies to remain "Methuselah"

    August 25, 2009 at 1:42 am |
  7. Sam

    The "reality" shows on VH1 and MTV are not reality. They are simply documentaries of people who are living in a fantasy world. These people are desperate for attention and desperate for money. What is alarming is that teenagers are the audience for these channels and they think this is the life they can live. If you think the lyrics of teen anthem "RockStar" by Nickelback are real, you might be selected to be on a reality show.

    August 25, 2009 at 12:05 am |
  8. Kim O. Calgary, Canada

    Another tragedy for both families but certainly not because of a T.V. show.

    Ryan Jenkins (being from Calgary) already had a criminal record for assault in 2007. My question is "How did he get through U.S. Customs with a criminal record to begin with". Everyone is asking why the show did not find the past history. He should not have been allowed across the border in the first place. This of course would not have changed his behaviour but this young woman may still be alive.

    Kim in Calgary, Alberta .

    August 24, 2009 at 11:56 pm |
  9. allen

    hahahaha did he kill her cuz she didnt sign a prenup??

    August 24, 2009 at 11:45 pm |
  10. Samuel L Jackson

    1. The criminal record check wouldn't show up as it's examined by a US company, but he was convicted of assault in Canada

    2. Given his criminal record, I'm surprised he was allowed into the US ... Most countries won't allow convicted individuals into their country.

    August 24, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  11. roy

    billy bush should be investigated "I love my life I love my wife"

    August 24, 2009 at 11:35 pm |
  12. Dre

    I don't think that a reality shows should not be heald blame for what that sick man did.i wish he was still alive so he can face what he had done.but i see that he couldn't take the hit.

    August 24, 2009 at 11:07 pm |
  13. olive brown, fla.

    my heartfelt sympathy goes out to both family.women need to be more careful with the men they meet.

    August 24, 2009 at 11:03 pm |

    I wonder if he left a note before he killed himself confessing to the murder?

    August 24, 2009 at 10:52 pm |
  15. FranSays

    Do you not have to register to rent a hotel room in Canada?? No signature or ID is required?

    What kind of hotel is this??

    August 24, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
  16. stephanie

    "this murder case is a real life horror movie come true. it makes me sick to my stomach." "ryan was an animal!"

    August 24, 2009 at 10:27 pm |
  17. Joe Fattal

    Why the man go all the way up to Canada and hang himself. He could have done it here. I am not consider that a suicide. Reminds me of David Carradine, did the man realy hang himself, or somebody wants it to look like a suicide. In the case of Ryan, there is more to it than we know.

    August 24, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  18. Annie Kate

    Even if there was no reality tv, Ryan probably would have killed his ex-wife and killed himself – there is no one to blame but Ryan himself. He chose to kill his wife and disfigure her body to impede identification; at the Canadian hotel he chose to kill himself – maybe thinking he would end up sentenced to death anyway and skipping all the middle steps of a trial, etc. Its unfortunate but most times people who kill will do it anyway – regardless of what is going on in their lives.

    August 24, 2009 at 7:48 pm |
  19. Isabel Siaba, Brazil

    What a sad story and dramatic. Poor families!

    August 24, 2009 at 7:40 pm |
  20. Sara

    Blaming a TV program for murder is ridiculous. If thats the case, then lots of people are in serious trouble..what a cop-out. This man was sick, and thats all there is to it.

    August 24, 2009 at 7:34 pm |
  21. Carol, California

    I don't think Reality TV has anything to do with this. Anyone who has ever watched a reality TV show knows that most of those people are nuts – no surprises there.

    How about just "reality" in general, and using common sense.

    I heard that the victim only knew this guy for a short time. From what I understand, her family didn't know she had gotten married. When are women going to learn not to do these things? Don't leave a bar with a guy you don't know. Don't agree to meet a person, that you've been chatting with online, unless you're in a public place...... etc. Use some common sense to protect yourself from becoming a victim!!

    Of course I'm not blaming Jasmine – it's a horrible tragedy. But it certainly can't be blamed on Reality TV either. That is just another example of shifting the blame – no one takes responsibility for their own actions.

    August 24, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  22. Joe G. (Illinois)

    What could drive a woman to willfully scar herself and stick rubber jelly balloons under her breast? Those pictures of her on TV show a happy, lovely and lively woman??? Everyday America has gotten past revolting.. Or are we not there yet? Makes you wonder.. Who’s that lovely neighbor of yours smiling at you? American Style people!!!

    August 24, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  23. Teresa, OH

    My condolences to both families, Jasmine's and Ryan's.

    And a big thanks to Mr. Jenkins for offing himself. One of my favorite quotes is: "There is NEVER a wrong time to do the Right Thing". This was the right thing for him to do.

    Now, was the coroner able to ID him through his teeth xrays or his fingerprints?

    August 24, 2009 at 6:01 pm |
  24. Kevin_Lately

    I don't trust a guy that waxes his eyebrows (unless he's a drag queen) Ryan Jenkins is no Drag Queen. I hope he does the right thing and takes an overdose and saves us all the Trial, Sentencing, and sordid details.

    August 24, 2009 at 5:59 pm |
  25. Patty A Banks Palmdale, Ca

    What a coward! i feel so bad for the family, i hope they know there's a special place in hell for him

    August 24, 2009 at 4:35 pm |