It’s hard to imagine now, but during the late 2000s, VH1 was the epicenter of the reality television world. The Bachelor was airing but it hadn’t yet hit its stride. In 2009 the Jason Mesnick and Melissa Rycroft season ran (on After the Final Rose Mesnick dumped Rycroft for another woman, Molly Malaney) and things finally started getting good for the show in the 2010s. VH1 had more exciting shows like rock of love and Flavor of Love where tattooed women competed for the attention of aging men. Those shows produced a legion of bingeable spin-offs: Daisy of Love, Rock of Love: Charm School and I Love Money.
Unless you were a hardcore fan of the VH1 reality TV universe, you might not remember that another spin-off, Megan Wants a Millionaire was planned, filmed, and edited. It began airing on TV in August of 2009 but after three episodes it was pulled from the schedule and the rest of the show never saw the light of day. VH1 issued the following statement for why the show was suddenly on indefinite hiatus and all information about the show was deleted from their website:
“Ryan Jenkins was a contestant on Megan Wants A Millionaire, an outside production, produced and owned by 51 Minds, that is licensed to VH1. The show completed production at the end of March. 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.”
If you weren’t already in the loop through the internet, VH1’s statement sent every fan running to Google to figure out wtf happened — and the answer was shocking. Ryan Alexander Jenkins, a 32-year-old contestant on the show, was the main suspect in his wife’s murder. Her body was found in a suitcase and had to be identified by the serial number on her breast implants.
The victim was 28-year-old model Jasmine Fiore who had met Jenkins after he completed filming of Megan Wants a Millionaire and the two married in March 2009 at The Little White Wedding Chapel on the Las Vegas Strip after knowing each other for just two days. In June of 2009 police were called and Jenkins was arrested and charged with “battery constituting domestic violence”, Fiore had a visible injury to her arm. On August 15, 2009 Jasmine’s body was found the morning of August 15, 2009 inside a dumpster in Buena Vista, California. It was later discovered that Jenkins had beat Fiore to death, removed her teeth and fingers, and put her body in a suitcase which he then put in the dumpster.
Jenkins picked up his speedboat and fled. He is believed he entered Canada by water and his half-sister, Alena Jenkins, helped him check into a motel. He was discovered to have died by suicide on August 20, 2009 at the Thunderbird Motel in Hope, British Columbia, Canada.
This isn’t even the only reality dating show where we know for a fact one of the contestants was a murderer. Serial killer Rodney James Alcala is sometimes called “The Dating Game Killer” because he appeared on an episode of The Dating Game in 1978 while he was actively murdering people. Alcala won his episode but the date never happened because the woman ended up finding him too creepy.
Prior to becoming a contestant on Megan Wants a Millionaire, Jenkins had been charged with assaulting a woman in Canada. 51 Minds, the production company who created Megan Wants a Millionairedid not screen candidates well enough to discover that at least one had been charged with a violent crime, but said if they had known, they would not have cast Jenkins. VH1 had also performed its own background checks and hired a Canadian company to do a background check on Jenkins (a Canadian citizen). Those checks also failed to turn up the charge.
To be clear, Megan Wants a Millionaire was explicitly a dating show, so not doing the proper background check to see if one of the suitors has been violent to women in the past is a big deal on its own. The titular Megan was Megan Hauserman, an alumna of four reality TV shows: Beauty and the Geek, rock of love, Rock of Love: Charm School and I Love Money. Megan Wants a Millionaire was a show built around Hauserman’s “bimbo villain” persona with the premise that a sea of wealthy men would compete to be her boyfriend to help her achieve her dream of becoming a trophy wife.
While VH1 never un-scrubbed the existence of Megan Wants a Millionaire from its site and the rest of the show never aired, another contestant later revealed that Ryan Jenkins placed third in the competition. This tracks as on the episodes that did air, he was a front runner who Megan Hauserman said she had a connection with. It’s purported that Hauserman wanted to choose Jenkins as the winner but a producer asked her not to as he was not “charming” enough. Jenkins instead placed third and TJ Diab was the winner.
Jenkins subsequently competed in another unaired VH1 reality show, the third season of I Love Money which filmed between June and August 2009. Jenkins won that show, earning a cash prize of $250,000. The show never aired anywhere. A last will and testament was discovered on Jenkins computer after his death but his estate information is not publicly available.