Jared Bridegan murder: Florida state attorney announces arrest in Microsoft exec’s slaying

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The state attorney’s office announced Thursday a new arrest in the shocking murder of Florida father of four Jared Bridegan, who was gunned down in front of his toddler more than a year ago.

Melissa Nelson, the state attorney for Florida’s Fourth Judicial District, and Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Gene Paul Smith said at a press conference that the husband of Bridegan’s ex-wife has been charged in his slaying.

Mario Fernandez, 35, the second husband of Bridegan’s ex-wife, Shanna Gardner-Fernandez, was arrested Thursday morning in Orlando by agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and officers with the Jacksonville Beach Police Department.

Gardner-Fernandez, 35, remains a suspect in the killing, according to law enforcement sources.

FLORIDA POLICE, STATE ATTORNEY ANNOUNCE ARREST IN MURDER OF MICROSOFT EXECUTIVE JARED BRIDEGAN

Mario Fernandez, right, was arrested Thursday for the murder of Jared Bridegan, left. He's the second husband of Bridegan's ex-wife, Shanna Gardner-Fernandez, far right.

Mario Fernandez, right, was arrested Thursday for the murder of Jared Bridegan, left. He’s the second husband of Bridegan’s ex-wife, Shanna Gardner-Fernandez, far right. (GoFundMe/Instagram)

A judge signed the arrest warrant for Fernandez moments after Henry Tenon, Fernandez’s former tenant, pleaded guilty to fatally shooting Bridegan as part of a plea agreement, Nelson said.

Tenon, 61, has agreed to “testify truthfully against those he worked with to murder Jared Bridegan,” Nelson told reporters at the press conference held at the state attorney’s office in downtown Jacksonville.

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“Tenon’s cooperation has both corroborated evidence collected during the investigation and provided additional evidence against Mario Fernandez Saldana for his role in the planning and execution of Jared’s murder,” she added.

Tenon was charged two months ago with second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, accessory after the fact and child abuse for his role in the slaying. 

READ MARIO FERNANDEZ’S ARREST WARRANT AFFIDAVIT HERE

Fernandez was indicted on charges of second-degree murder with a weapon, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, solicitation to commit a capital felony and child abuse. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Nelson said the “investigation remains active and ongoing and has not stopped today with the arrest of Mario Fernandez.”

Bridegan, 33, a software developer for Microsoft, was shot to death Feb. 16, 2022, in an affluent suburb of Jacksonville Beach. 

He was ambushed in front of his then-2-year-old daughter Bexley when he stepped out of his car to move a tire that had been strategically placed in the road.

A side by side of Kirsten Bridegan and Henry Tenon, who was charged in the murder of Jared Bridegan.

A side by side of Kirsten Bridegan and Henry Tenon, who was charged in the murder of Jared Bridegan. (Mark Sims for Fox News Digital/Jacksonville State Attorney’s Office)

Fernandez’s arrest warrant, released Thursday, revealed disturbing new details.

“Bullets struck the interior of the vehicle, in close proximity to where [Bexley] was strapped into her car seat,” the document says.

Minutes earlier, Bridegan had dropped off the 10-year-old twins he shares with Gardner-Fernandez at her home after taking them to dinner with Bexley.

Bridegan’s widow, Kirsten Bridegan, flanked by his brother, Adam Bridegan, read a brief statement Thursday at the press conference. 

“We have great relief knowing that two of the people behind my husband’s murder are now behind bars and are no longer a threat to our family. We are also still angry,” she said, describing the immense loss for her and their two children, Bexley, 3, and London, 1. 

“Angry that our youngest, who was six months at the time of his death, will have no memories of her father. Angry that there will be no new memories,” she said, as her eyes welled with tears.

General view of the home at 5239 Potomac Avenue in Jacksonville, Florida, on Jan. 25, 2023. Henry Tenon rented the property from Mario Fernandez, who is married to Bridegan's ex-wife, Shanna Gardner-Fernandez. Tenon and Fernandez have been charged with Bridegan's murder.

General view of the home at 5239 Potomac Avenue in Jacksonville, Florida, on Jan. 25, 2023. Henry Tenon rented the property from Mario Fernandez, who is married to Bridegan’s ex-wife, Shanna Gardner-Fernandez. Tenon and Fernandez have been charged with Bridegan’s murder. (Mark Sims for Fox News Digital)

Charging documents allege that Tenon conspired with at least one accomplice for six weeks to plot the cold-blooded killing that left four children without a father.

At the time of the shooting, Tenon did odd jobs for Fernandez and lived in one of his rental homes in Jacksonville, which was later sold. 

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Tenon deposited three handwritten checks from Fernandez, but the heavily redacted warrant doesn’t indicate when these were written. 

Gardner-Fernandez and Bridegan had an acrimonious divorce in 2016 — but they continued to battle over custody of their twins and finances until his death.

A poster announced a $55,000 reward for information about the unsolved murder of Jared Bridegan.

A poster announced a $55,000 reward for information about the unsolved murder of Jared Bridegan. (Jacksonville Beach Police Department)

A tattoo parlor staffer said that, shortly before the divorce, Gardner-Fernandez asked if he knew anyone who could “shut him [Bridegan] up.” 

Gardner-Fernandez, the scion of a wealthy Mormon family who own a multimillion-dollar papercraft company, later admitted to making the statement in an interview with a local newspaper.

She met Fernandez in 2018 at a CrossFit gym where he worked in maintenance, the warrant says. 

A photo combination of Jared and Kirsten Bridegan, left, and Shanna Gardner-Fernandez outside her home in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

A photo combination of Jared and Kirsten Bridegan, left, and Shanna Gardner-Fernandez outside her home in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. (Courtesy of Kirsten Bridegan/Mom&Paparazzi for Fox News Digital)

Amid mounting public scrutiny and after hiring a prominent criminal defense lawyer, Gardner-Fernandez moved 2,800 miles to the Pacific Northwest late last year.

Fox News Digital exclusively reported that her parents used an LLC to secretly purchase a $1 million home for her in West Richland, Washington.

Meanwhile, Gardner-Fernandez appears to be estranged from Fernandez, who has been living in Orlando and did not join her for the cross-country move.

A family portrait of Jared and Kirsten Bridegan.  

A family portrait of Jared and Kirsten Bridegan.   (Infinite Focus Photography/Madeline Insignares)

Fernandez was spotted in January squatting in front of his home and shaving his beard with an electric razor.

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Kirsten Bridegan made a plea directly to Tenon after his arrest.

“Henry, if you get to hear this, please choose now to do the right thing. Please help us receive justice sooner than later,” she tearfully told reporters at a press conference in January. “Please help us in this nightmare that we are living every single day.” 

Mario Fernandez is spotted with his dog outside a veterinarian in Orlando, Florida on Jan. 27, 2023. Fernandez is married to Shanna Gardner-Fernandez, and is a suspect in the murder of her ex-husband, Jared Bridegan.

Mario Fernandez is spotted with his dog outside a veterinarian in Orlando, Florida on Jan. 27, 2023. Fernandez is married to Shanna Gardner-Fernandez, and is a suspect in the murder of her ex-husband, Jared Bridegan. (Mom&Paparazzi for Fox News Digital)

Kirsten Bridegan said Thursday she would continue fighting for justice until every single person involved in her husband’s murder is charged.

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“We have fought hard for the truth,” she said, “We know there’s still a long way to go before all of those responsible are truly held accountable, but today is a very significant day for our family.”

Gardner-Fernandez’s high-powered criminal defense lawyer Henry Coxe III declined to comment. He said he no longer represents Fernandez but declined to disclose the identity of his new attorney. 

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