Jasmine Fiore was a carefree but very lonely "Vegas girl," before she was brutally strangled and stuffed in a suitcase, found nine days ago; her teeth and fingers chopped off; her body identified by serial numbers imprinted on breast implants.
Drama came at every turn of her tragic and months-long marriage to Ryan Jenkins (a TV reality show actor and the suspect in her murder).
She caught Ryan having sex with another woman in their living room.
And around Vegas, they caused public scenes.
In a nightclub, he once pulled her dress up and down, exposing everything in front of their friends, as she wasn’t wearing underwear. Drunk, she did not put up a fuss.
At a Vegas pool, he once threw her in the water after she made out with a man in front of him and friends.
On Sunday, Ryan’s body was found in a hotel in Canada, an apparent suicide. His death and her murder ended a shooting-star streak of passion.
"They were always kissing, making out in public — or they were always fighting. It never seemed to be balanced," says a friend of the model and cocktailer.
Jasmine harbored self-doubt ("the prettier the girl, the more insecure they are"), but she could have been "normal" if "you took away Vegas," the friend believes.
"I think Vegas changed her," the friend says. "She was a good person. She just got out of control."
All of these and the following descriptions of Jasmine and Ryan come from Marta Montoya, a close friend of Jasmine’s, a sometimes model and aesthetician stunned and saddened by Jasmine’s death. (I have personally known Marta for more than five years; I did not know Jasmine or Ryan.)
Marta says Jasmine aspired to be an actress and model in Los Angeles, but she relocated to Vegas for a job she didn’t like, dealing cards at the Palms’ Playboy Club.
She turned to cocktailing at MGM’s dayclub Wet Republic, then at a strip club, and finally at Treasure Island, modeling in between.
Jasmine was cocktailing when Marta met her at a Vegas event about a year and a half ago. They began to hang out, an unusual step for Jasmine.
"She had really bad trust issues, so she didn’t have girlfriends," Marta says. "She didn’t have a lot of friends except the guys she dated."
Jasmine was sweet.
"If you needed a job, she would do whatever she could to help get a job. She had a big heart," Marta says. "She’d come over and sit by the couch while I cried" about a certain issue. "She dropped everything" to help.
Before Jasmine met Ryan, Jasmine was head-over-heels for a different boyfriend, Robert Hasman.
"It was always an on-again, off-again relationship. She’d move in, she’d move out. She’d move in, she’d move out," Marta says. "She’d never talk negative about (Robert). Maybe he just didn’t want to settle down. I’m not too sure. He wouldn’t give her a ring? …"
Jasmine was funny, liked to work out and was outgoing. But Marta (raised in Vegas and not entranced by its vices) sometimes couldn’t handle how much Jasmine drank, nor her drama, nor how much attention Jasmine liked to draw.
So Marta mostly hung out with Jasmine in the day when she was "normal," going to the movies, except when Jasmine begged her to hit the Strip.
"She was hard to hang around" at times, Marta says. "Vegas is all about debauchery. It’s all about excess.
"I just think that it got to her head.
"One time last year, we were at a club. Jasmine was talking to somebody’s boyfriend" but really was just sitting at her own table, Marta says.
"This girl comes up to the table and throws the drinks at Jasmine. There wasn’t a fight, but there were definitely words exchanged.
"A lot of women were jealous of Jasmine, that’s for sure. I think that’s why she didn’t have a lot of friends."
Jasmine met Ryan in a club. They bonded over the simple fact that their birthdays were either on the same day or nearly the same day, Marta says. They were married within hours in March.
"I asked Jasmine, ‘Did you at least do a credit check?’"
"I think it was a little bit of a rebound, maybe," after Jasmine’s breakup with Robert.
Marta got a really bad feeling from Ryan, from large issues down to the small matter of his "big teeth, the veneers," which "freaked me out."
"He seemed like a nice guy — he gave me a hug — when I first met him.
"But," she says, "I felt like he tried too hard. When he would talk, it was all about him, not Jasmine. It was all about what he made (money). I couldn’t put a finger on it, where he got his money. I still don’t."
Ryan talked about how his dad had a plane; how he was planning to transfer his money from his native Canada to the States.
"It was always money, always flash, ‘I got this, I got that.’ I mean, the ring she had on her finger was absolutely gigantic. I think Jasmine sort of fell in love with that. I mean, she’s 28."
Ryan bought her a car and supported her financially while she rented a condo in swanky Panorama Towers.
"Ryan didn’t make her work. Ryan gave her maybe too much freedom," which set Jasmine adrift. "One minute she was working, the next minute she quits and just did whatever she wanted."
One day, Jasmine and Ryan went to the Red Rock Resort’s Cherry club, along with Marta and other friends. They were hanging out at a pool cabana. It was a lovely day and Jasmine was optimistic.
"She was telling me she wants to get out of being a cocktail waitress; she wants a family; she and Ryan were talking about going to L.A.; how she wanted more of a career than just a job. It felt like she was changing for the good."
Two hours later, Jasmine got wasted on booze. Ryan was talking with someone about a real estate deal and wasn’t paying attention to her. Jasmine started kissing a Cirque du Soleil performer "with an amazing body" who was hanging out with them.
"She made out with a guy right in front of him (Ryan), while I was sitting right there. And then she told the guy they had an open relationship."
Marta screeched, "Jasmine!"
"Ryan looks over and wants to kick the guy’s ass — and threw her in the pool."
"She said, ‘I didn’t do anything!’"
Jasmine played a big role in her fights with Ryan, though Ryan started fights as well, and Jasmine had the strength to fight back.
Another time at Wynn’s club XS ("excess"), Ryan got so drunk, he pulled up Jasmine’s dress (she wasn’t wearing underwear) and pulled down her top. Jasmine just let it happen.
"It was tasteless. It was tactless. It was disgusting," Marta says. "And here I am, trying to cover her up and get those two off each other. It was embarrassing."
Their last movie outing was the most recent "Star Trek" film. Marta thought it was "the dumbest movie in the world"; Jasmine liked it.
The last time Marta saw her was at a party at "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane’s house in L.A.
Blond Jasmine had dyed her hair black and was plotting her future.
"She told me she had caught Ryan having sex with some girl in their living room. And that she was leaving Ryan, and she was going to have an annulment."
Jasmine thought an annulment would strip Ryan of his visa and he’d have to move back to Canada.
"She said that she already sent in the papers," Marta says.
Jasmine told Marta she’d sent text messages to her ex, Robert, saying she was getting back with him.
On Aug. 15, Jasmine’s body was discovered in a suitcase in a Dumpster in Buena Park in Southern California. Police looked for Ryan all last week until he was found dead Sunday.
What if she and Ryan were alive right now?
"She’d be making Ryan’s life a living hell. She wanted to leave him from the get-go."
But, Marta says, away from the heavy drinking and from Ryan, Jasmine was "a great girl."
"I hope you don’t make it sound like she’s a bad person. She’s not. She was just the Vegas type."
Doug Elfman’s column appears on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 383-0391 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.