Those Who Seek Fame in a Reality Show … Often Have Tragedy Befall Them

Ryan Jenkins

Ryan Jenkins and Jasmine Fiore

Ryan Jenkins and Jasmine Fiore

Ryan Jenkins’ suicide begins with the murder of Jasmine Fiore on August 15, 2009. Fiore had met Canadian-born real estate investor Ryan Jenkins at a Las Vegas Casino shortly after he had completed filming VH1’s reality show Megan Wants a Millionaire.

Two days later, on March 18, 2009, Fiore and Jenkins were married at The Little White Wedding Chapel on the Vegas Strip. Unfortunately with this couple what happens in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas.

In June, 2009, Jenkins was charged in Clark County, Nevada with battery constituting domestic violence for hitting Fiore in the arm. Travis Heinrich, who was one of two suitors of Fiore’s states that Jenkins and Fiore had been arguing over her friendship with Heinrich (who was present) which resulted in Jenkins hitting Fiore’s arm, knocking her into a swimming pool.

Jenkins was scheduled to go to trial in December, but the pair reconciled shortly before Fiore’s death on August 15 and they traveled to San Diego for a poker game.

Fiore’s mother stated that the two fought regularly and that Jenkins knew about Fiore’s ex-boyfriends, but was extremely jealous of them. She also told The Associated Press that her daughter had the marriage annulled in May of 2009. However, no court records of an annulment in Nevada, or LA County, Calif. could be found. An annulment wouldn’t have mattered. These two were destined for bad things.

Jenkins and Fiore checked into the L’Auberge Hotel in Del Mar in the evening of August 13, 2009 for a charity poker tournament. Surveillance video has them leaving the Hilton at about 2:30am on August 14. The couple was seen later at a nightclub in downtown San Diego.

At 4:30am, Jenkins returned to the L’Auberge Hotel alone. Fiore was never seen alive again. Jenkins left the hotel at around 9am on Friday, August 14.

Fiore’s body is discovered, but not identified on Saturday, August 15 at about 7am. Her nude body is badly beaten and crushed into a suitcase inside a dumpster in an alley in Buena Park, Calif. Her teeth and fingers have been removed. She’s been strangled.

On August 18, her remains are identified using the serial numbers from her breast implants. The Orange County Coroner reports that Fiore died a couple of hours prior to when her body was found. They find her white Mercedes abandoned in a parking lot in West Hollywood about a mile from the penthouse she shared with Jenkins in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles.

Everything catches up with Jenkins by 6pm on August 20 when he arrives at the Thunderbird Motel in Hope, British Columbia, Canada with a young blonde woman in a silver PT Cruiser.

Apparently they pay cash for three nights accommodation. The woman stays only 20 minutes and then leaves the hotel and is never seen again. The manager sees Jenkins walking outside the motel the next day, August 21. He looks exhausted and is not even recognizable from his picture seen on television.

At 11:30am on the third day the couple fails to check out, the hotel manager and his nephew decide to check on the room and they find Jenkins hanging from the wall clothing rack by a belt. There’s no suicide note in the hotel but a suicide note is saved on Jenkins’ computer titled “Last Will and Testament” and dated August 20, 2009.

On August 27, investigators found a storage unit full of his belongings, including a suitcase full of clothes in Washington state.

When VH1 discovers Jenkins was connected with the murder of Fiore they cancel Megan Wants Millionaire, drop reruns of past shows from its schedule, remove archived episodes from the iTunes Store and cable video on demand services. When they realize Jenkins had appeared in the third season of I Love Money they also cancel the run of that show.

Several lawsuits are filed between 51 Minds, Collective Intelligence and a Canadian firm, Straightline International, when they discover Jenkins had a record in Canada. As o f 2013, lawsuits are still pending.

Bruce Beresford-Redman

Bruce Beresford-Redman

Bruce Beresford-Redman

Bruce Beresford-Redman was a reality show producer and produced Pimp My Ride for MTV and moved up to the Survivor television franchise.

Unfortunately, his illustrious career went on the rocks when he decided to kill his wife in early 2010 while they were staying at a Cancun resort following repeated attempts to reconcile.

He married Mónica Burgos on April 8, 1999 in Brazil. They had two children. On April 8, 2010, Mónica was found dead at the Moon Palace resort in Cancun, Mexico while they were on vacation.

Bruce was detained and questioned by Mexican police later that day as a “person of interest.” He was released in the early morning hours the following day on the condition that he remain in Mexico. Someone at the hotel told police that they had seen the couple arguing on April 4 and Bruce was seen with scratches on his body.

Mexico authorities held on to his passport but that didn’t stop Bruce from illegally leaving Mexico.

On April 9, 2010, The Los Angeles Times reported that Mónica Beresford-Redman had been strangled and her body dumped in a sewer close to where the couple had been vacationing.

On May 31, 2010, Mexico issued an arrest warrant for Bruce Beresford-Redman and because unlike Mexico, the United States honors warrants from other countries, the U.S. Marshalls apprehended Bruce Beresford-Redman on November 2010 in Los Angeles, and held him in custody for Mexico.

On November 29, 2010, a Los Angeles federal judge denied Beresford-Redman bail and on July 12, 2011 U.S. Magistrate Chooljian determined that he should be returned to Mexico because there was enough circumstantial evidence he could have murdered his wife Mónica.

On February 8, 2012 Beresford-Redman waived further appeals and was extradited to Mexico and on February 15 he was ordered to remain in custody pending adjudication.

His children have been taken care of by his parents since his arrest and he talks to them on the phone whenever he can.

Joe Finley

Joe & Linda Finley

Joe & Linda Finley

On the day he auditioned for America’s Got Talent in 2010, Joe Finley’s wife Laura was found brutally murdered at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, where the show was being filmed.

On October 23, while Joe Finley was standing in line waiting for his audition to begin for America’s Got Talent, the police were discovering his wife’s lifeless body on the third floor of a staircase in the hotel.

When he was told of her death, he went ahead and auditioned, barely making it through the song he picked for the audition.

He admitted to police later that he and Laura took ecstasy the night she died and police found some in his possession. He was arrested on drug charge and released on bail.

In July, 2012, Finley brought a wrongful death suit against the Millennium Biltmore Hotel claiming vagrants entered through an  unlocked door and attacked his wife while she was getting ice from the hotel ice machine.

In legal documents he claimed the head of security took a gruesome death picture of his wife and disseminated that photo to the general public and that he even flashed the topless death picture of his wife at the hotel bar.

The suit was seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress and invasion of privacy.

When her autopsy report was released it disclosed that she had ecstasy and alcohol in her blood. She had a 1-inch laceration on the top of her head and a “diagonal gaping laceration measuring three-and-a-half inches” on her scalp.

Her skull separated from the spinal column during a severe head injury. When found she was in stage four rigor mortis. Her top was in the lost and found and her pants were on her, inside out.

Despite all this, the police have never released the cause of death as an accident, homicide or suicide.

Some of the comments posted on the NBC Los site about Joe Finley suing the Millennium Biltmore Hotel are incredibly voyeuristic and are proof that Reality is Tragedy.

One, from a Nurse Case Manager left on February 27, 2013 claims she was at the hotel at the time of the murder and “there is no doubt in my mind I saw the murderer at the elevator shortly before he killed her.” She goes on to say that the police are not listening to her and that they screwed up the investigation by looking at Joe Finley and not looking for the man who actually killed her.

The one posted beneath hers dated March 20, 2013 from Mitchell Timothy Finn states he is Joe Finley’s brother, or rather he was his brother until he figured out what he did to Laura and that he (Joe) is a sociopath.

The one posted beneath his is from Jill Sutterlin. It states she is Laura’s sister and she states her family is working very closely with the LAPD and that Joe not only lied but refuses to help the LAPD but has found time to only “try and collect money from the Biltmore, get married and have a baby.” She goes on to say that the video and pictures the LAPD have disproves everything the Nurse Case Manager is saying and Joe Finley’s story as well.

Gabriel Ben-Meir

Gabriel Ben-Meir was a 30-year old music producer who coordinated music for MTV shows including Punk’d.

In May, 2011, he was brutally shot in the back of the head and his wallet was taken by two robbers. He was just a block away from his home in Los Angeles and steps away from his parked car.

A year later, a man and woman were charged and ordered to stand trial on murder charged in Ben-Meir’s death and the unrelated murder of Marcelo Aragon who was killed in April of 2011.

Ryan Dunn

Ryan Dunn

Ryan Dunn

Ryan Dunn was an actor, stunt man, and a a member of the Jackass and Viva La Bam crew.

He came to prominence as a member of the CKY Crew along with his long-time friend Bam Margera for their over-the-top pranks and stunts which they recorded on camera. This in turn led to the rise of MTV’s Jackass and the three feature films which have all been commercial successes.

Aside from Jackass, Dunn hosted Homewrecker and Proving Ground and appeared in Street Dreams, Blonde Ambition, Haggard: the Movie and Minghags: The Movie.

On June 20, 2011, along with his friend Zachary Hartwell, a production assistant on Jackass Number Two, Dunn died in an alcohol-related car accident in Chester County, Penn.

Police stated it was the worst crash they had ever seen, stating Dunn was traveling over 130mph in his Porsche before the crash. The autopsy results revealed that the crash was so violent it was impossible to determine if Dunn and his friend died from the impacty or from the fire that resulted from it.

Phil Harris

Phillip Charles (Phil) Harris 12/19/56-2/9/10) was captain and part owner of the Cornelia Marie, a crabbing vessel which was featured on Discovery Channel‘s reality TV series Deadliest Catch.

Harris had been fishing with his father since he was 8 and after high school he began crab fishing. By the time he was 21 he was one of the youngest captains of a crab fishing boat on the Bering Sea. At the time of his death, he had been the captain of the Cornelia Marie for more than 20 years.

On January 29, 2010 he suffered a massive stroke while offloading crab in port at St. Paul Island, Alaska. Despite improvement in his health, Capt. Harris died on February 2, 201 at the age of 53. He had a pulmonary embolism while in the hospital.

Discovery Channel aired the Captain’s death on July 20, 2010 which they followed with a special tribute episode.

Shain Gandee
Shain Gandee

Shain Gandee

One of MTV’s Buckwild reality show stars, Shain Gandee was only 21 when he died. He was one of 9 cast members of the show that follows a group of young adults trying to have fun in Sissonville, West Virginia.

The group pulls stunts such as turning a dump truck into a swimming pool or just riding around the wood on their ATVs.

Gandee was billed as a former high school prom king who had held every job from coal miner to garbage man.

Prior to finding him and two others dead, family members had reported him missing in Kanawha County, West Virginia along with a 1984 Ford Bronco belonging to the family.

When found, the Sheriff’s Office said the vehicle was partially submerged in mud. It was uneven but upright; its muffler below the surface. Mud covered the lower part of the Bronco’s passenger side door, but the driver’s side, where the younger Gandee sat, was free.

Gandee’s uncle, David Dwight Gandee, 48 and Donald Robert Myers, 27 were the two people found dead with Shain Gandee.

Autopsy results confirmed they died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Anna Nicole Smith

Smith, who exposed her bizarre life on The Anna Nicole Show, was found dead of “combined drug intoxication” at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Florida in February 2007.

If you really know nothing about her and how reality TV affected her life, google her name and start reading.

MTV Score: 5

I Checked out of Bates Motel for Chloë Sevigny

James D'arcy and Chloë Sevigny star in "Those Who Kill" from A&E.

James D’arcy and Chloë Sevigny star in “Those Who Kill” from A&E.

Bates Motel was really my kind of drama and I watched the first episode, actually parts of the first episode three times. But I never carried through and watched all of the episodes of the first season.

Here it is now, March of 2014, and new episodes of the second season of Bates Motel have begun, and my trusty DVR has recorded them, but I still haven’t got caught up with the first season.

Last night I watched the first episode of Those Who Kill with Chloë Sevigny and James D’arcy and was blown away. Tonight I promptly deleted Bates Motel off by DVR and canceled the record order in my series manager.

I figured if I haven’t gotten around to watching Bates Motel by the time the second season has started, then it just isn’t for me.

In Those Who Kill, Sevigny plays Catherine Jensen, a new to homicide detective who has paintings of serial killer’s homes in her apartment. Not too creepy, they are well done paintings.

James D’arcy plays Thomas Schaeffer, a forencis psychologist who’s not on the best of terms with the police department, and Jensen goes to him to get insight into her cases.

They both find themselves deeply involved in Pittsburgh’s serial killers, each in a different way and judging from the first episode, that may do more harm than good.

A&E will no doubt replay the first episode so if  you get a chance, you should DVR it and then set your DVR to catch it on Monday nights at 9pm.

“Reality” Turns into Suicide for these Contestants

It’s called a “reality” show for a reason. Wikipedia defines “reality” as the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined.

Dr. Bethany Marshall who appeared on the Good Morning America show when they were discussing the death of Paula Goodspeed said, “Here’s the problem with these kinds of shows. If you have a personality disordered, fragile, vulnerable contestant who is very sensitive to criticism, and you put the image of them being criticized on YouTube… plastered in front of millions of people – they’re not Teflon-coated. They cannot handle it.”

Paula Goodspeed aka Sandra May McIntyre

Paula Goodspeed Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Paula Goodspeed Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Paula Goodspeed, who auditioned for American Idol but didn’t make it, killed herself in front of Paula Abdul’s house on November 11, 2008.

Some say it was a suicide. Some say it was an accident.

Born Sandra May McIntyre on July 4, 1978, of all the “Reality” contestant deaths, this, by far is the saddest. Sandra idolized singer/dancer Paula Abdul. So much so she changed her name to “Paula” when she was 16. When she was in her 20s, she took her grandparents’ last name, Goodspeed.

She did some modeling, took singing lessons and did everything she could to get to an American Idol tryout. And finally, there she was, in front of Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and her own “Idol” Paula Abdul.

But her tryout did not go well. Simon Cowell ridiculed her for the braces on her teeth and even questioned, “I don’t think any artist on earth could sing with that much metal in your mouth… that’s like a bridge.”

That statement just proves that the man is an idiot. I’m sure he’s encountered singers with braces before. But this is his persona.

Millions of viewers saw Cowell mock Goodspeed’s braces. After the footage aired, she wrote on her MySpace blog that she was finding it hard to cope with the “haters” who mocked her.

Sandra McIntyre aka Paula Goodspeed is just one of the reality show suicides.

Danny Bonaduce

I’m not saying it started with Danny Bonaduce slashing his wrists during his train wreck VH1 show in September of 2005, but it could have. Then again it could have just been him living for the drama.

In an attempt to stop his wife from leaving him, he did allow the cameras to roll during his efforts to beat alcohol and drug abuse. He just had no idea he’d go so far as to attempt suicide on the show, or so he says.

On this particular episode, the TV star breaks down in tears, confesses he’s completely lost all control of his life and then slashes both of his wrists with a disposable razor.

His wife replied, “that’s it, I can’t take it anymore. I want a divorce.”

To which Bonaduce replied, “I can’t live without you” and cut his wrists.

The police were called, he was taken into custody and detained in a psychiatric ward for 24 hours.

Najai “Nitro” Turpin

Najai "Nitro" Turpin

Najai “Nitro” Turpin

Najai “Nitro” Turpin, 23, is actually listed as the first American reality show contestant to take his own life. He was a contestant on NBC’s boxing competition show The Contender.

Turpin committed suicide on February 14, 2005 while sitting in a car. He was with his girlfriend and his 2-year old daughter. His motive was unclear. He had low self-esteem, he was defeated on the show and he was in an ongoing custody battle for his daughter. The Contender was produced by Mark Burnett, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Sylvester Stallone.

Several experts whose job it was to analyze all of the contestants prior to going on the show say Turpin should not have been included as a contestant. So was he thrown in the lineup in the hopes of making it a better show?

Rachel Brown

The second season of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen aired on June 12, 2006 and concluded on August 14, 2006. Rachel Brown, 39, from Dallas, Texas was a personal chef and contestant of Hell’s Kitchen. Brown was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in her family home in May of 2007.

While on Hell’s Kitchen, Brown had a romance with a fellow female contestant, which the show’s producers made a prominent part of the program.

Joseph Cerniglia

Two years after he appeared on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Joseph Cerniglia jumped to his death off the Washington Bridge (Sept. 2010). He apparently told one of his friends that he was in financial trouble and that the debt of his restaurant was overwhelming.

Kitchen Nightmares is a reality show in which Ramsay attempts to help struggling restaurant owners turn their businesses around.

The former president of the American Academy of Suicidology stated it’s unlikely these shows drive either Brown or Cerniglia to suicide. Speaking to CBS News, he said, “My guess is that both of these people had major problems before appearing on the show,” said Dr. Robert Yufit. “I would almost bet that the show itself should not be held responsible. I would say that the show might have tripped off something else that was going on in their lives.”

The American Association of Suicidology is a membership organization that is committed to reducing the number of suicides and suicide attempts.

Julien Hug

Julien Hug, the onetime Bachelorette contestant and the only son of Bertrand and Denise Hug felt suicide was the only way out. On November 5, 2010, they decided to address the media only after being devastated by comments they saw from sources outside the family. The Hugs stated their son was outgoing, but was an extremely private person who internalized everything.

Authorities said several notes were found on the passenger side of Hug’s jeep, but the details of the notes were not initially released.

His live-in girlfriend of two years described Julien as misunderstood. “People wanted him to be this ‘Bachelorette’ star.” Hug was the second bachelor eliminated in Season 5 of the ABC romance reality show, which aired in 2009 and featured Jillian Harris as “The Bachelorette.”

Russell Armstrong

Taylor & Russell Armstrong. Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for One Voice

Taylor & Russell Armstrong. Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for One Voice

Russell Armstrong, estranged husband to Taylor Armstrong, was not only living under a cloud of financial problems, he was also in the spotlight of the reality show, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

“It got really overwhelming,” Russell told People Magazine just weeks before his death. He said to a photographer from the show, “It’s funny how a reality show can ruin your entire life.”

Russell was found dead on August 16, 2011. A roommate found Russell and called 911. He was found hanging in his bedroom on Mulholland Drive by the Los Angeles City Fire Department at 8:16pm. A suicide note was not found.

Taylor filed for divorce, claiming that Russell physically abused her. The divorce petition filed in a downtown Los Angeles Superior Court made no mention of abuse or domestic violence.

Russell was 47. (BTW, almost every picture I could find of Taylor Armstrong has her smiling that way.)

Sgt. Wesley Durden

Sgt. Wesley Durden

Sgt. Wesley Durden

Sgt. Wesley Durden, 28, a contestant on TLC’s Next Great Baker died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on December 21, 2011 after the show had wrapped in October. The show announced his death after his elimination show aired. Durden was an Iraq War veteran, was a cook with the 82nd Airborne Division and had been deployed to Iraq twice. He had a wife and two young children.

Joey Kovar

Joey Kovar starred in MTV’s The Real World: Hollywood in August 2012. He was 29 and had struggled with drug and alcohol abuse on and off camera. He had also appeared on Season 3 of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Kovar’s death was ruled as “opiate intoxication” and ruled an accident but his friends claim he had been sending suicidal text messages leading up to his death.

Gia Allemand

Bachelor star Gia Allemand died on August 14, 2013 at the age of 29. She was a contestant on Season 14 of The Bachelor. Her NBA player boyfriend Ryan Anderson found her hanging and unconscious in her New Orleans home. She was put on life support but later was removed and died the following day after suffering “critical loss of brain and organ function.”

Mindy McCready

After a very public struggle with drugs and alcohol on the television show Celebrity Rehab, Mindy McCready was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in February 19, 2013. She was the fifth Celebrity Rehab cast member to die in two years.

Just a month earlier, her boyfriend had committed suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. It appears that she shot and killed a dog that belonged to her late boyfriend, record producer David Wilson, before shooting herself.

Mindy left behind two sons, a 6-year-old and a 10-month old. Well at least she didn’t kill her children, and then herself.

Cheryl Kosewicz

Cheryl Kosewicz was a deputy district attorney from Nevada. She had specialized in the prosecution of sexual abuse cases.

Pirate Master was another Mark Burnett-created reality competition show that was filmed on Dominica. CBS pulled it due to poor ratings. Cheryl Kosewicz had been the fourth contestant eliminated from the CBS reality show.

Kosewicz, whose boyfriend killed himself two months before her death on January 27, 2007 had posted comments on MySpace that she was having a very difficult time copying with her boyfriend’s death. She also blamed the series for the events leading up to her death.

Mark Balelo

Mark Balelo

Mark Balelo

Mark Balelo would show up now and then on A&E’s Storage Wars with a man purse and a lot of money.

He died in February of 2013, the victim of what the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office said was “asphyxiation from carbon monoxide and exhaust fumes.” His body was discovered in a car parked in a garage at his Simi Valley auction house, days after he was arrested on charges of methamphetamine possession.

Nathan Clutter

Nathan Clutter

Nathan Clutter

Originally Paradise Hotel (FOX) covered Nathan Clutter’s October 12, 2007 death by saying he had died in a fall in a climbing accident but it was later revealed that he actually died in an apparent suicide.

Video surveillance footage showed he draped a sweater over a barbed-wire fence that surrounded an Alltel cellular telephone tower in Amarillo, TX early in the morning on Oct. 12, 2007. Nathan Clutter then scaled the fence, climbed the tower and jumped to his death. He was 26.

No suicide note was found. His family believed Clutter was suffering from bi-polar/manic depressant behavior, however he had never been diagnosed as such.

James Scott Terrill

Terrill was a single dad from Georgetown, Ky., that appeared on the ABC reality show Supernanny in January of 2008. He went on the show seeking help in managing his two sons after their mother had abandoned them. But once the cameras left, Terrill was still struggling with being a single parent.

On July 4, 2008 he called Georgetown police from the cemetery where his father was buried, threatening suicide. Police remained on the phone with him for nearly an hour but in the end, the 37-year old father of two took his own life.