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Suspect in model's murder led police on boat chase before fleeing to Canada, sources said

August 21, 2009 |  3:55 pm

Ryan Alexander Jenkins, wanted in the murder of model Jasmine Fiore, led authorities on a high-speed boat chase several miles off the coast near Blaine, Wash., law enforcement sources told The Times today.

Authorities tracked Jenkins to a marina in Blaine on Wednesday night and came upon his car and empty boat trailer, the sources said, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because it was an ongoing investigation.

The engine of the car was still warm and the U.S. Coast Guard was alerted. A Coast Guard cutter  came upon a speed boat several miles off the coast that was believed to belong to Jenkins. Coast Guard officials shone lights on the speed boat and began approaching, the sources said.

The speed boat then fled into Canadian waters, sources said. Authorities there were notified and chased it  with a helicopter and a boat, but the speed boat crossed back into U.S. waters. The source said it was believed that Jenkins took the boat to another marina in the area, then walked into Canada.

When authorities arrived at the marina, they found fresh footprints they believed belonged to Jenkins, the sources said. Jenkins is still on the run and is now believed to be in or around British Columbia, although a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said authorities there had not confirmed his presence.

The U.S. Marshals Service today put up a $25,000 reward for information leading directly to Jenkins’ arrest. The Marshals Service also issued a federal arrest warrant for Jenkins for “unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.”

Prosecutors in Orange County issued an arrest warrant for Jenkins.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police issued a bulletin stating: "We are asking anyone with information on the whereabouts of Mr. Jenkins to call their local police. If anyone sees Mr. Jenkins, do not approach him and call 911 immediately."

According to the Vancouver Sun, Jenkins has family in the Greater Vancouver area, but it's unknown whether that's his destination. The Calgary Sun reported that Jenkins' father, a well-known architect, was returning to Canada from Mexico.

Fiore's fingers and teeth were removed from her body, and the body was placed in a suitcase and dumped  in a trash bin, authorities said Thursday.

The Orange County district attorney's office said Fiore, 28, was last seen alive Aug. 13, when she and Jenkins went to an upscale Del Mar hotel together. Fiore and Jenkins had married, then had the marriage annulled but were still dating.

Jenkins checked out of the hotel the next morning, apparently alone, prosecutors said.

On Saturday morning, a man looking for recyclables found the suitcase and called police.

"The officers found a large bloodstained gray suitcase containing the body of a Caucasian female. The victim had been badly beaten, all of her fingers had been cut off, and all of her teeth had been forcibly removed," prosecutors said in a statement released Thursday.

On Saturday night, Jenkins reported Fiore missing to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, prosecutors said, adding that he then fled Southern California. His whereabouts over the last few days were unknown, but on Wednesday he apparently surfaced in Washington state.

"The defendant's black BMW X5 was found with a boat trailer attached in a marina in Blaine, Wash.," the Orange County district attorney's office said. "The defendant is accused of using a speedboat to flee from the U.S. to Canada."

Duncan Pound, a spokesman for the Mounted Police, said that his agency has not yet confirmed that Jenkins was in Canada and that law enforcement agencies in British Columbia and elsewhere have been put on alert.

Jenkins was a contestant on the VH1 reality show "Megan Wants a Millionaire," in which wealthy men compete for the love of a young woman. He was billed on the show as an investment banker. He was also scheduled to appear on a second VH1 show, the third season of "I Love Money," according to a source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.

Coroner's officials were able to identify Fiore based only on a serial number found on a breast implant, said Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney’s office.

"In light of the fact that the victim's fingers had been cut off and all of her teeth had been pulled out, the coroner had to find other medical means to identify the victim," Emami said.

"We believe that the defendant removed the victim's fingers and teeth to hinder law enforcement’s ability to identify Ms. Fiore," she said.

--  Andrew Blankstein and Ari B. Bloomekatz