10 REALITY TV STARS WHO DIED HORRIBLE DEATHS
The advent of reality television has enabled thousands of people without any discernible talent to become famous overnight. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned about fame, it’s that it can be pretty hard on you. After the cameras are off and the free alcohol dries up, the life of a reality TV star can become a grim affair. In this feature, we’ll bring back 10 people who bared it all for America and then went to the grave in shocking and disturbing ways.
Mark and Debra Constantino
You have to have a certain mentality to get filmed hunting for ghosts. Mark Constantino and his wife Debrawere two of the investigators on “Ghost Adventures” on the Travel Channel, which featured assorted credulous buffoons poking around in the dark with infrared cameras looking for ectoplasm. However, in September 2015 Mark decided to get a little bit closer to the spirit world and bring Debra with him. She had recently filed for divorce, which pushed Mark over the line. She responded with a restraining order. That was the last straw for Mark, and he went to her apartment, murdered her roommate, kidnapped his wife and took her to a third location where he shot her in the head and then killed himself with a SWAT team outside.
MTV’s “Buckwild” was a low point, even for a network that seems to specialize in them. The show profiled a group of self-professed West Virginia rednecks as they hunted squirrels, swam in mud and got busted for prescription drug abuse. It was a ratings hit, but the show got canceled a month after premiering when one of its stars, Shain “Gandee Candy” Gandee, got trapped inside a Ford Bronco stuck in the mud and died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Apparently the exhaust pipe was clogged and the SUV filled up with the gas. Gandee and the other two men in the car were coming home from a bar at 3 in the morning, which possibly explains why none of them thought to open a window.
Having Gordon Ramsay scream at you in your restaurant sounds like a pretty miserable affair, and it should come as no surprise that many of the places fixed up on “Kitchen Nightmares” end up going out of business anyway. For Joseph Cerniglia, owner of Campania in New Jersey, the decline of his beloved restaurant was too much to bear. Three years after his appearance on the show, Cerniglia walked to the middle of the iconic George Washington Bridge and jumped to his death in the Hudson River. Uncomfortably, one of the lines that Gordon had used on him during the episode was “Your business is about to f—ing swim down the Hudson.”
We can only imagine what would make somebody think that they could find love on ABC’s long-running “The Bachelorette.” Julien Hug, who competed for the heart of Jillian Harris during season 5, was an adventurous fellow from Southern California. He was eliminated in the second episode, and following the show battled depression. While driving to the Palm Springs area to help his parents open a restaurant, it became too much for him. Hug pulled off the road in Pinyon Pines and shot himself in the head. He left a suicide note for his family, writing, “I feel awful and don’t know how to cope. If life’s not enjoyable, why stick around?”
Known as the “Legal Diva,” Loredana Nesci starred on the Sundance Channel’s “Loredana, Esq,” a show about the former LAPD officer turned defense attorney. Her reality TV career was cut short in 2015 when police responded to a 911 call to find Nesci’s dead body. The caller was her boyfriend Robert Reagan, who was also the assailant. He stabbed her four times with a hunting knife, once hard enough to completely pierce her body and come out the back, and waited four hours before calling the cops. The boyfriend tried to claim that the stabbing was in self-defense — he was trying to “wrestle away” the hunting knife but Nesci was too strong for him. His case goes to trial later this year.
“The Contender,” first airing in 2005, was one of the more interesting reality concepts we’ve seen, following 16 boxers as they compete to see who’s the best. One of those boxers was Najai Turpin, a Philadelphia-born welterweight with a 13-1 professional record. After the show was filmed but before the premiere, a despondent Turpin (who had washed out of the show early after losing to the much taller Sergio Mora) shot himself in the head in front of his girlfriend Angela Chapple. People who knew him said that he was upset at not being allowed to fight because it would spoil the ending of the show. In addition, he had been arguing with Chapple over custody of their daughter.
It’s kind of ironic in a really grim way to be covering the awful death of a contestant from “Survivor,” but we’ll get through it. Caleb Bankston became a star on the 27th season of the long-running competition, subtitled Blood Vs. Water. The show marooned couples on Palaui Island, and returning contestant Colton Crumbie was joined by his fiance Caleb Bankston. Although the pair didn’t last long (Caleb was voted off 9th) they were good guys and America grew to love them. The year after the show, Caleb was working as a railroad engineer when a freak accident caused him to be crushed between cars when a train jumped the tracks.
The boys from MTV’s “Jackass” were well known for pushing the limits, but Ryan Dunn probably shouldn’t have done so with his blood alcohol level. Dunn was known for putting his body on the line in a panoply of bizarre stunts, from putting a Matchbox car up his butt to jumping into a tank of raw sewage. When he plowed his Porsche 911 into a guardrail at 130 miles per hour, his BAC was a staggering .196 — over twice the legal limit. Dunn’s fatal crash also took the life of passenger Zachary Hartwell, a production assistant on the second “Jackass” movie.
We can’t think of a fate worse than being a husband of one of the “Real Housewives” and bankrolling the disastrous vanities of attention-seeking women on TV. For Russell Armstrong, husband of Taylor Armstrong from “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” things just got worse and worse. After accumulating debts reportedly reaching $1.5 million and splitting from his spouse of six years, the embattled Armstrong hung himself from a wooden beam in his bedroom with an electrical cord. In his last interview, he commented that being on TV “took our manageable problems and made them worse.”
You have to sort of be a sociopath to go on a dating show, but “Megan Wants A Millionaire” bachelor Ryan Jenkins took that a step too far. The real estate investor met model Jasmine Fiore in Vegas shortly after filming on the show wrapped and married her two days later. Their union wasn’t particularly blessed, though — they were only together for a few months before Fiore’s body was found in a suitcase inside a dumpster. She was so brutalized that police had to identify her by the serial numbers on her breast implants. Jenkins went on the lam and on August 23, 2009, they found him dead in a British Columbia hotel room, hanging from a coatrack by his neck.