CALGARY — Ryan Jenkins traded in a privileged life as a Calgary real estate developer for the grimy glamour of sell-yourself reality TV followed by a whirlwind wedding with a Las Vegas model he’d only known for hours.
The man barely semi-famous for competing on a reality television show and losing out on the chance to be sugar daddy to a picky trophy wife became a notorious fugitive celebrity when his real wife, Jasmine Fiore, was found naked and mutilated, stuffed into a bloody suitcase in a suburban Los Angeles dumpster.
But friends and family in Canada say the promiscuous “smooth operator” played up on the small screen and splashed as a murderer across gossip websites and newspapers around the world isn’t the intelligent, successful man they knew.
“He’s a good person and the media just made him out to look so bad,” Jenkins’ mother, Nada Jenkins, insisted Monday.
Her only child was “the best son,” she said, and his image had been grossly distorted through the lens of the paparazzi who have stalked the story since Fiore’s death.
“He was talented, he was bright … he was artistic, he was creative.”
Jenkins, 32, was a prominent fixture on the competitive Calgary real estate scene from a young age, working with his father, renowned architect Dan Jenkins, on several projects.
After studying aviation and business at the city’s Mount Royal College, Ryan Jenkins designed and developed environmentally responsible condo projects and gave flying lessons out of the Calgary International Airport, according to an online resume.
“He’s always been a really positive, energetic individual, always a lot of fun,” said one friend who worked on similar real estate developments, but did not want his name used.
There was never a hint of aggression or anger from Jenkins, the friend said.
Jenkins’ charmed life seemed to change when he headed south of the border to join the cast of the VH1 reality show “Megan Wants a Millionaire,” in which wealthy men compete for the attention of a self-proclaimed trophy wife.
Jenkins never sought a life in the limelight, according to his mother.
He was contacted while working in Calgary and asked to join the show, she said.
“His work was slow at the time and he thought, well, heck, why not do this?” she said. “What young man wouldn’t want to be on a reality show if asked?”
On his bio for the show, Jenkins claimed to be someone who turns “player girls” into “princesses” and said he only cheated on an ex-girlfriend when he wanted to break up with her. His net worth was given as $2.5 million.
He also reportedly went on to compete on another reality show, “I Love Money 3,” which features castoffs from reality dating shows competing for a cash prize.
After taping finished in March, Jenkins headed to Las Vegas, where he met and married swimsuit model Fiore within just a few days.
But their relationship was frequently tumultuous.
There are reports it was fraught with jealousy and infidelity.
Fiore caught Jenkins having sex with another woman, friend Marta Montoya told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. On another occasion, he pushed Fiore into a pool after she started making out with a man while he sat nearby, chatting with friends.
Montoya told the paper she once witnessed Jenkins pull Fiore’s dress half off, exposing her naked body to a group of their friends. She was so drunk she didn’t even protest.
Still, his mother believes Jenkins didn’t kill Fiore and is being smeared in the media.
“The truth is he was a good person who couldn’t harm anybody.”