Bridegan was driving home with his daughter Bexley after dropping his nine-year-old twins with his ex-wife, when he was ambushed and shot dead in Jacksonville Beach.
Police said after noticing a tire in the dimly lit street, Bridegan got out of his black Volkswagen Atlas SUV to remove a tire that was obstructing the roadway when he was shot at close range, as Bexley sat in her car seat just feet away.
In April 2022, his widow, Kirsten Bridegan, told The Independent that two months after the murder, law enforcement was still waiting on forensics recovered from the scene to come back from the lab.
“I am praying that they can recover DNA or fingerprints from the evidence that they’ve sent for processing because that will let us know who is behind this and who killed him,” she said.
“It’s so frustrating that it takes time but this isn’t a TV show, it’s real life. I pray and hope that when that comes in that will give us someone or something to go after.”
And now officials have charged Bridegan’s ex-wife Shanna Gardner-Fernandez, her husband Mario Fernandez Saldana and Henry Tenon for the death of the Microsoft executive.
The latest arrest was that of Gardner-Fernandez who was arrested in Washington state on Thursday. She will be extradited back to Duval County, Florida, where she has been indicted by a grand jury on a charge of first-degree murder and child abuse.
“We promised at the outset of this investigation we would not relent until we uncovered the truth of Jared’s murder, the whole and entire truth,” State Attorney Melissa Nelson told reporters.
Bridegan’s widow, Kristen Bridegan, welcomed news of the arrest: “For 547 days, we hoped and prayed that this day would come,” she told reporters.
“Shanna’s arrest ends one horrific chapter of our pursuit for justice for Jared and now we opened a new one. This next chapter will be excruciating. We are confident in the ability of the State’s Attorney’s Office and law enforcement to bring truth to light we expect to see justice carried out to the fullest extent of the law.”
Who is Shanna Gardner-Fernandez?
Gardner-Fernandez, 36, has been charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation to commit a capital felony and child abuse.
Gardner-Fernandez and Bridegan wed in 2010 and filed for divorce in 2015. The pair shared custody of their twins.
When Gardner-Fernandez filed for a divorce, she accused Bridegan of "disturbing and abusive behaviour" toward their children, and he accused her of spying on him and treating him "in a disparaging manner in front of the children,” according to The Florida Times Union.
After Bridegan’s death, Gardner-Fernandez faced public scrutiny due to her and Bridegan’s difficult divorce and for not attending his funeral or initially speaking out.
In 2018, she married her second husband Mario and reportedly ran a baking company called beachbaked904.
According to an arrest warrant, the two met at a CrossFit gym where Mario worked in maintenance.
In an interview with the Times-Union in 2022, Gardner-Fernandez spoke out and said: "I feel for Jared’s family and what they are going through. I can’t even imagine. I have tried to be respectful. I have tried to give them space."
Will Shanna Gardner-Fernandez face the death penalty?
According to The Florida Times Union, State Attorney Melissa Nelson said prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for both her and Fernandez Saldana.
Will Shanna Gardner-Fernandez be extradited back to Jacksonville?
Gardner-Fernandez is currently in the custody of the Benton County Corrections Department in Washington.
On Friday, Gardner-Fernandez refused to waive extradition to Florida, where she faces charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and child endangerment, Fox News reports.
She is being held without bond and is expected to reappear in court on 14 September.
Who else has been arrested in the case?
Henry Tenon,61, known as a longtime felon was arrested in January and charged with conspiracy to commit murder, second-degree murder with a weapon, accessory after the fact to a capital felony and child abuse.
According to jail records, Tenon has nine arrests in Jacksonville on minor offences and is also a felon in Georgia.
At the time of his arrest, Melissa Nelson, the State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial District, told reporters that were other suspects being investigated and authorities “know that Henry Tenon did not act alone.”
However, officials did not yet detail Tenon’s exact role in Bridegan’s death but revealed a connection between Tenon and Gardner. Authorities said Tenon was living at a home owned by Mario Fernandez.
Prosecutors announced earlier this year that Tenon had pleaded guilty and would testify against co-defendants; he will serve at least 15 years in prison, according to the plea agreement.
On 16 March 2023, Mario Fernandez was also arrested on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation to commit a capital felony and child abuse.
Mario Fernandez allegedly committed the crime for “pecuniary gain” and in a “cold calculated and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification.”