As new details emerge about the acrimonious split, the ex-wife of a Microsoft executive was mysteriously shot to death in front of her 2-year-old daughter in North Florida.
Jared Bridegan (33), was shot dead after dropping his twins off at Shanna GardnerFernandez’s home in Jacksonville Beach, in North Florida.
He was just about to take his twins and Bexley, his daughter, along with Kirsten Bridegan, to dinner.
According to police, Bexley was in her car seat with Bexley strapped in. They were driving to St. Augustine and he noticed a tire on the road.
Bridegan was pushed out of his Volkswagen Atlas by an unknown assailant and fled.
Police said that Bexley was found in the car after being stuck in the car near her dead father’s body. A passerby then spotted the horrific scene and pulled her out of the car.
Kirsten Bridegan (30), was at home with London, the couple’s 7-month-old daughter.
The horrific murder remains unsolved and the Jacksonville Beach Police Department has not publicly named a suspect.
Gardner-Fernandez is now being represented by Henry Coxe III, a highly-skilled criminal defense attorney.
According to Coxe’s bio, the ex-president of the Florida Bar “specializes in serious federal or state criminal matters,” according to the Bedell Firm website. The bio under the heading “Areas of Practice” lists only “criminal defense.”
Coxe stated that he was retained “for the purpose to see if steps could possibly be taken to protect her twins from the publicity surrounding this tragic incident.” Coxe continued, “As to any other reason for her family to have or require counsel, whether it is me or anyone else,”
As detectives try to find clues, Bridegan’s relationship is now in sharp relief with his ex-wife.
Courtship of Jared and Shanna
After being introduced by a Jacksonville friend, the couple began to meet in 2009. Gardner-Fernandez was born in an upscale Mormon community in Alpine, Utah. She is the daughter of Sterling Gardner and Shelli Gardner. Stampin’ Up! sells paper crafts products.
According to IncFact, the family business, which is headquartered in Salt Lake City has an annual revenue estimate of more than $100 million.
At first, Bridegan wasn’t interested, but Gardner-Fernandez “wined and dined him,” flaunting her charmed life, a friend said.
“It was like she was saying, ‘Look what my lifestyle is like, I can fly you all over, my parents pay for everything,” according to the friend.
Bridegan met Gardner-Fernandez and fell in love. They settled in Utah, and the couple got married at the Salt Lake City Temple.
The couple bought a house in Highland, Utah for $800,000. They each owned a Mercedes, but neither had a job.
According to court filings and sources, the parents gave the newlyweds a monthly allowance of more than $8500, access to credit cards, and other financial perks. Bridegan was also given $100,000 to start her own business.
Cracks in the Marriage
Gardner-Fernandez was pregnant with twins, a boy as well as a girl. Their son, however, was born with severe congenital heart conditions. The couple was told by doctors that their son needed to live at sea level in order for his heart to function properly.
They relocated to Connecticut where Bridegan’s brother, and his wife, were also living, which was close to their son’s New York doctor.
The friend said, “That’s when all the cracks started to show.” Gardner-Fernandez quit going to church and began working out fervently. The friend explained that Gardner-Fernandez became frustrated with her husband who was overweight and was focusing on starting businesses.
Bridegan, originally from Jacksonville, was looking for a new start and persuaded Gardner Fernando to relocate to his hometown. He was enrolled online at Savannah College of Art and Design to pursue a master’s in art and design.
The couple bought an $800,000 home in Ponte Vedra Beach, south of Jacksonville. However, the move did not save their marriage. Sources said that while Bridegan remained a faithful member of the LDS Church, Gardner-Fernandez started to stray from her faith.
Bridegan gave her set personal training sessions after she had joined CrossFit. Sources claim that she had an affair with her personal trainer and Bridegan discovered compromising emails between them. According to sources, he confronted her and she said she didn’t love Him anymore.
The friend said that it was like watching someone you loved and knew do a complete 180. “Jared was like, “I don’t recognize this person.” “I married a completely different person.”
However, he was willing to fight for their union for the sake of their children — a proposal she rejected, according to a source.
Gardner-Fernandez filed divorce papers from Bridegan on February 23, 2015. After about five years of marriage, Gardner-Fernandez called the union “irretrievably broken” and told the court that “we don’t love one another anymore.”
Despite their animosity, the spouses were able to remain in the marital home, even though they had to fight in divorce court.
Gardner-Fernandez demanded sole occupancy and primary custody of the house. Bridegan was accused of threatening to take cash from their trust funds for his personal use.
Bridegan countered by arguing that he deserved primary custody, alimony, and child support as well as exclusive use of their home since she could not afford to live elsewhere.
He accused her, among other things, of spying on him. She placed baby monitors in their bedrooms and attached a tracking device to his car.
Bridegan sent an email to Fox News Digital in which he attached a photo showing one monitor under his daughter’s dresser and another underneath his son’s. He wrote that both parents were able to access the baby monitors and they were already in plain view in the rooms.
“This is enough!” He wrote in an email on May 17, 2015. “I want her to be freed from the hellish gates.”
He was not given a key to the master bedroom lock. She also allegedly installed a voice-activated recorder inside the house.
Bridegan accused her of “totally lying on her financials” claiming she had no income when she had allegedly earned thousands of dollars doing work under the table for her mom’s business, according to the email.
After waiting months, Gardner-Fernandez canceled their son’s June 2015 New York heart surgery. This was the most upsetting moment for the spurned spouse.
The couple reached a shared parenting agreement and divorced in July 2015. However, they kept dragging each other into court for six more years.
In 2017, Bridegan married Kirsten Bridegan and they were creating a blended family. He and Gardner-Fernandez, Mario Fernandez’s husband, continued to fight over every issue with their twins. They argued about everything, from where they should attend school to changes to their child support and custody agreements.
Kirsten Bridegan stated that Jared was a difficult man to watch as he was involved in court battles when he was trying to be the best father and husband he could be.
Gardner-Fernandez’s lawyer wrote that “the parties struggle to solve issues among themselves and tend to look to the court to resolve,” asking for a court to appoint a parenting mediator to mediate their conflicts in 2020. “This has led to effectively a continuous state of litigation.” Gardner-Fernandez was responsible for the majority of court cases.
Gardner-Fernandez began to file more hostile filings over the years, and her accusations became more outrageous. She claimed that Bridegan had been “interrogating minor children” and recording their statements in 2019.
She claimed that he threatened to use the coached recorded statements against her mother, calling her conduct “abusive” as well as “outrageous”, and demanding a social inquiry. The request was turned down.
Gardner-Fernandez filed another motion in June 2021 against her husband for refusing to let her borrow a small breathing device for their son. This machine was often used at high altitudes. She was able to travel with a smaller machine.
Bridegan was accused by her attorney of being more concerned about humiliating the mother of his children than he was in protecting his son’s life.
The matter was finally settled by an order that was entered on the docket just four months prior to Bridegan’s death. It stated that Gardner-Fernandez would pay him $571 and retain the exclusive use of the small machine. A final docket entry recorded Bridegan’s murder and concluded the vitriolic litigation.
According to police, the assailant might have put a tire on the road to lure Bridegan out of his car around 7:30 p.m. and then shot him.
The attack was not captured on surveillance video. Detectives are asking the public for help to identify a vehicle of interest – a dark-colored Ford F-150 with tan trim.
The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) are providing assistance to local police officers with resources, including their laboratories for processing forensic evidence.
Sgt. Tonya Tator of the Jacksonville Beach Police Department.
Anybody with information is asked to call the Jacksonville Beach Police Department, 904-270-1661, or First Coast Crime Stoppers, 1-866-845-TIPS. For the Bridegan family, a GoFundMe.com account was set up.
For information leading to the arrest or conviction of the killer, there is a $55,000 reward. Jared’s brother Adam Bridegan and Nate Checketts launched a fundraiser. The majority of the money came from that. Adam Bridegan replied, “Not yet,” but we would be grateful if the Gardner family donated.
Kirsten Bridegan is a leader in the fight to bring her husband’s killers to justice. She reached out to numerous national media outlets asking for tips. The widow, who is distraught, has distributed flyers throughout north Florida and organized an event to honor his memory.
“The fight is never easy. It becomes more difficult as time goes by without any answers. I won’t give up. She said that she will continue fighting for Jared. “He deserves justice. The family deserves justice. And the community deserves justice.
The funeral for their father on March 3 was not attended by the twins. Shelli Gardner closed on the $3.5 million Jacksonville Beach vacation home three weeks after the murder. She claimed that her daughter was “uninvited” in a blog post.
“After Shanna (along with anyone who knew her), was not invited to Jared’s funeral service, Shanna & the twins planned their celebration of life,” Gardner wrote on March 21 under the heading “Enormous amounts of love” on her blog “So Shelli.” This sentence was deleted.
This post contains professional photos of Gardner Fernandez and Mario Fernandez smiling with their twins and dozens more of friends and family.
There is a large selection of Mexican food and baked goods, as well as snaps of smiling guests gathering in the backyard of Gardner’s new property on the oceanfront.
A number of critics criticized the event, calling it a “PR stunt” that was too joyful.
“I have never seen so many smiles at the celebration of life for someone who was brutally murdered.” Jay wrote, “It’s not worth all the photos of the food decorations.”
Gladys pointed out the inaccuracy of Shelli Gardner’s claim and said that Gardner-Fernandez wasn’t invited, but that the children were.
Gardner replied that Kirsten Bridegan had offered her to pick the twins up, take them to the funeral, and then drop them off at her home. However, Gardner claimed that the children didn’t want their mother to be there.
She wrote, “There are many sides to every story. I have chosen not to share my side, for everyone involved, especially our grandkids.” Gardner’s responses to the critical posts were deleted later.
Gardner and Gardner-Fernandez didn’t respond to requests for comment. Mario Fernandez asked his lawyer Henry Coxe for clarification.