‘Significant development’ to be announced in Jared Bridegan murder investigation
Authorities are set to announce a “significant development” in the investigation into the February 2022 murder of St. Johns County father of four Jared Bridegan.
Melissa Nelson, the state attorney for Florida’s Fourth Judicial District, said at a press conference Thursday 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, Florida, on first-degree murder and other charges.
Gardner-Fernandez, 35, remains a suspect in the killing, according to law enforcement.
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)
ATF agents arrested Fernandez in Orlando at 9:35 a.m. His arrest comes less than two months after his handyman, Henry Tenon, was charged with second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, accessory after the fact and child abuse for his role in the slaying. He was the first suspect arrested in the case.
Tenon pleaded guilty Thursday morning to murder in exchange for cooperating against Fernandez “as part of the plea agreement to testify truthfully against those he worked with to murder Jared Bridegan,” Nelson said.
Tenon was promised a prison sentence of 15 years to life.
Fernandez was indicted on first-degree murder, child abuse and other charges.
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, Florida.
He was ambushed in front of his then-2-year-old daughter Bexley when he stepped out of his car to move a tire in the road.
Charging documents allege that Tenon, 61, conspired with at least one accomplice for six weeks to plot the cold-blooded killing that left four children without a father.
A side by side of Kirsten Bridegan and Henry Tenon, 61, who was charged in the murder of her husband, Jared Bridegan. (Mark Sims for Fox News Digital/Jacksonville State Attorney’s Office)
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.
Gardner-Fernandez and Bridegan divorced in 2016 – but they continued to battle over custody of their 10-year-old twins and finances until his death.
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 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.
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.
A family portrait of Jared and Kirsten Bridegan. (Infinite Focus Photography/Madeline Insignares)
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.
Fernandez was spotted in January squatting in front of his home and shaving his beard with an electric razor.
Bridegan’s widow and second wife, Kirsten Bridegan, with whom he shares Bexley, 3, and London, 1, made a plea directly to Tenon after his arrest.
Mario Fernandez is spotted with his dog outside a veterinarian in Orlando, Florida on Friday, January 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)
“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.”
Kirsten Bridegan told Fox News Digital that she would continue fighting for justice until every single person involved in her husband’s murder was held accountable.
“There are more people,” she said. “This was orchestrated, this was planned and this was specific to Jared.”