CALGARY - Police agencies countrywide were on the lookout Thursday for a former reality television contestant wanted for questioning in the death of his ex-wife in the United States.
Federal Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan said reports that Ryan Jenkins had crossed the border into Canada were unconfirmed, but police were watching for him.
"The Canadian Border Services Agency does work very closely with law enforcement partners both here in Canada and across the border (and) they are well aware of the particular case," he said.
"I know that at a local level here and at a provincial level across Canada, police forces are on the lookout with the potential that he might be in this country."
U.S. police say the 32-year-old Jenkins, who is from Calgary, is a "person of interest" in the death of former model Jasmine Fiore, 28. Her nude body was found stuffed in a suitcase in a trash bin in California.
Jenkins was a contestant on the VH1 reality TV show "Megan Wants a Millionaire" before marrying Fiore. Her death followed by his disappearance has sparked a media frenzy south of the border.
The Whatcom County sheriff's office in northwest Washington said deputies received word Wednesday that Jenkins could have made his way to Canada. His car and an empty boat trailer were found at a marina in Blaine, just south of Vancouver.
They also had a report that a man matching his description arrived by boat at Point Roberts, U.S. territory about 16 kilometres away and at the tip of a peninsula reachable by land only from Canada.
Radio station CKNW reported that Jenkins' mother lives in Vancouver. Quoting a family friend, the station reported she went to meet Jenkins in Seattle on Wednesday, saying it was a family emergency.
The station also reported that Jenkins' mother refused to comment.
The border between Washington and British Columbia around Blaine is hard to monitor, especially along waterways dotted with islands, said Benjamin Muller, a border expert at King's University College who is very familiar with the area.
"I've talked to RCMP in the region and there's all sorts of systems they have to try and monitor the movements on the waters there, and it's exceptionally difficult," he said.
The area is known for marijuana and gun smuggling between the two countries, he said.
Acting Calgary police Chief Al Redford said officers in Jenkins's home town were working with other law enforcement agencies and looking for tips.
"Our fugitive apprehension detail is currently on the hunt checking connections, associates, doing backgrounding, that sort of thing," he said.
Fiore was last seen alive with Jenkins at a poker game in San Diego. Jenkins reported her missing Saturday night to the Los Angeles County sheriff's department, police said.
Buena Park Lt. Gary Worral said Jenkins is "merely a person of interest" at this point, but added it was odd that despite the media attention Jenkins had not come forward.
It's still not clear how Fiore died, although a preliminary coroner's report indicated she was strangled.
Fiore's mother has said that in March, after taping for the VH1 series finished, Jenkins met Fiore in a Las Vegas casino and the two were married soon after. But Lisa Lepore said "they had a big blowout" in May and Fiore had the marriage annulled.
A friend from Calgary who has known Jenkins for about five years, said they last spoke in the late spring, shortly after Jenkins met Fiore.
"He said, 'I met this amazing girl and we have a lot in common and we're going to get married,"' said the friend, who didn't want to give his name due to the immense publicity the case has attracted.
"He said they just clicked and things were awesome."
The friend said he was shocked to hear Jenkins could be at all connected to the case, saying he was an "energetic individual, always a lot of fun."
"In the years that I've known him and got to spend time with him, he's never shown any aggression or anger, he's just always a positive guy."
- With files from The Associated Press and Lauren Krugel in Calgary