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How Microsoft Executive Jared Bridegan's Ex-Wife Ended Up Charged With His Murder

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Wondering why her husband wasn't home yet on the night of Feb. 16, 2022, Kirsten Bridegan kept calling his cell phone.

"I just knew something's not okay," she told NBC News' Dateline two months later. "He always answers me, especially if he's in the car."

Finally, someone answered Jared Bridegan's phone. But it was a police officer, who told Kirsten that her daughter, 2-year-old Bexley, was fine but she should go to the police station right away.

Kirsten soon found out that her spouse of four years was dead. Police in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., said Jared was found lying next to his Volkswagen Atlas with multiple gunshot wounds shortly before 8 p.m. The door to the SUV was open and Bexley was strapped into her car seat in the back. 

A tire had been in the road in front of Jared's car, according to police, who guessed that the 33-year-old Microsoft executive had gotten out of his vehicle to move it when he was killed. 

Kirsten, also mom to 6-month-old daughter London with Jared, told Dateline she believed the tire was put there on purpose. Jared took that route all the time to visit the 9-year-old twins he shared with his ex-wife, Shanna Gardner, she said, and someone could have been lying in wait for him.

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"Whoever did this is a whole other level of evil," Kirsten told Dateline. "You tricked him to stopping. Shot him at close range. Our daughter was in the car. What maniac does that?"

Who was Jared Bridegan?

Kirsten met her future husband on a dating app in early 2017, drawn in by "the kindness in his eyes and smile," and they wed that October, she told Dateline. Bexley was born in August 2019 and London arrived two years later. 

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Jacksonville Beach Police Department

The young family lived in St. Augustine, Fla., 26 miles away from Shanna's house in Ponte Vedra Beach. She and Jared had divorced in 2015 after five years of marriage and shared custody of their twin son and daughter.

Jared, whose LinkedIn bio says he was a senior design manager at Microsoft, "went above and beyond to be fun and make memories with the kids," Kirsten said.

In January, she launched Bexley Boxes to provide law enforcement with care kits to help children who've experienced trauma.

When Bexley had to wait for her at the police station after Jared was killed, Kirsten told Fox News Digital, "they didn't have anything really besides a coloring book and a squishy police car, and that just stuck with me for months."

She added, "It's been really difficult having had such loss and seemingly no justice, feeling like I'm treading water and that there's not much else I can do except try to help children in similar situations."

What happened to Jared Bridegan?

Jared took Bexley and the twins out for a "routine 'date night' dinner," Jacksonville Beach Police Department Det. C.L. Johns detailed in a January 2023 arrest warrant affidavit reviewed by E! News.

Jacksonville Beach Police Department

He had dropped the twins off at their mom's house and was on his way home along Sanctuary Boulevard, "a dark residential roadway," when, per the affidavit, he became the victim of a "targeted murder."

Jared talked to wife Kirsten on the phone moments beforehand and she told police she noticed nothing unusual, according to Johns. Coming upon a large damaged tire in the road that was blocking his route, Jared stopped, turned on his hazard lights, got out of his car and was shot multiple times, the affidavit continued. Police said they found his wallet, watch, wedding ring and phone at the scene.

Bexley, "not physically harmed," was in her car seat, the affidavit stated. Investigators determined that "projectiles" had struck the interior of the vehicle, "within feet" of where the child was sitting. Handgun shell casings were found at the scene, police said.

"Witnesses advised that the child was crying when they arrived on scene," the affidavit noted.

What were police looking for during the Jared Bridegan murder investigation?

Several weeks after the murder, police identified a dark-colored Ford-150 truck as a vehicle of interest, but no other developments were announced as months went by. A reward offered by First Coast Crime Stoppers steadily grew from $8,000 in the days right after Jared's death to $50,000 by May 9, 2022.

"Every tip that comes in has to be investigated to the fullest, until we have nothing else to go on, so that is time-consuming itself," Jacksonville Beach Police Sgt. Tonya Tator told First Coast News last August. She also said that, just because authorities weren't sharing many updates, that didn't mean they weren't making progress.

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Det. Johns stated in the January 2023 warrant affidavit that, after reviewing motion-activated surveillance footage, he believed the tire—which investigators concluded came from a 2004 Ford F-150 Lariat—wasn't in the road shortly before the shooting because no other cars stopped or swerved while driving by.

And last summer, police quietly zeroed in on 61-year-old Henry Tenon as a suspect, according to the affidavit. He drove the make and model of truck they were looking for and, after he was arrested on a felony driving charge in August 2022, authorities questioned him about Jared's murder once he was in custody. 

Investigators learned that Henry had been a tenant in a Jacksonville property owned by Mario Fernandez Saldana, the current husband of Jared's ex-wife Shanna, per the affidavit. Further investigation into Jared's life "revealed a highly acrimonious divorce" from Shanna, the document stated, and a "contentious relationship" with her and Mario.

How Microsoft Executive Jared Bridegan's Ex-Wife Ended Up Charged With His Murder

Who was arrested for the murder of Jared Bridegan?

On Jan. 25, Henry Tenon was arrested on murder charges in connection with Jared's death. (In court a few weeks later, he pleaded not guilty to counts of second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, accessory after the fact and child abuse, the last count related to Bexley being endangered when her dad was killed.)

Henry Tenon (Jacksonville Beach Police Department)

Melissa Nelson, State Attorney for Florida's Fourth Judicial Circuit, said at the time authorities believed Henry had pulled the trigger but that he didn't act alone and their investigation was ongoing. He had been in jail since his August 2022 arrest and that's where he remained. 

"I thought I had mentally prepared myself for that moment," Kirsten told Dateline after Henry's arrest. "But as his picture was shown and as the charges were read my hands started shaking, I wasn't prepared for it. Thankfully, my sister-in-law was standing next to me and we held on to each other and got through it."

Kirsten and Jared's brother, Adam Bridegan, said they had never heard of Henry Tenon.

"Feels good to have one answer," Adam told Dateline. "But as soon as you receive that answer, reality sets in and you realize what you're facing is, 'OK, this was conspiracy. This individual did not act alone.'"

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The state attorney's office announced another break in the case this past spring: On March 16, Shanna's husband Mario was arrested and indicted by a grand jury on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation to commit a capital felony and child abuse.

Mario has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Mario Fernandez Saldana (Jacksonville Beach Police Department)

"We are dedicated to his defense," his attorney Jesse Dreicer told the Associated Press, "and are optimistic that when the all of the facts are made available our client will be exonerated." E! News has reached out to the lawyer for comment but has not yet heard back.

Three handwritten checks from Mario were found among Henry's bank records obtained by authorities in October 2022, according to a March arrest warrant affidavit reviewed by E! News. According to both suspect's warrant affidavits, each one heavily redacted, Henry initially told police he only spoke to Mario once in May after his lease ran out in February 2022, but phone records showed 35 phone contacts in February, 30 that March and several more in May and June.

"We are now 13 months since Jared's murder," Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Gene Paul Smith said when Mario's arrest was announced. "And we have not stopped working."

Added state attorney Nelson, "We remain committed to the seek the truth—the entire truth—and holding accountable every
individual involved in the murder of Jared Bridegan."

Meanwhile, immediately prior to Mario's arrest, Henry pleaded guilty to second-degree murder with a weapon and "agreed to testify truthfully against any accomplice," according to a press release from the prosecutor's office.

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On Aug. 17, Shanna Gardner was arrested for the first-degree murder of her ex-husband. The indictment alleges that she and Mario conspired to kill Jared and solicited Henry to physically do the deed. Nelson's office said they would be seeking the death penalty for both Shanna and Mario. 

Federal agents took Shanna into custody in West Richland, Wash., where she held without bail while awaiting extradition to Duval County, Fla.

"This investigation has uncovered the truth of Jared's murder," Nelson said at a news conference. "Henry Tenon did not act alone. Mario Fernandez did not plan alone. And Shanna Gardner's indictment acknowledges her central and key role in the cold, calculated, and premeditated murder of Jared Bridegan."

Jared's wife Kirsten, flanked by family members, told reporters, "Shanna's arrest ends one horrific chapter of our pursuit of justice for Jared and now we open a new one," she said. "This next chapter will be excruciating, but we are confident in the ability of the state's attorney's office and law enforcement to bring truth to light."

Kirsten said she believed the state attorney's decision to seek "the harshest punishment" in this case was "justified."

What has Shanna Gardner said about ex-husband Jared Bridegan's murder?

Shanna, 36, has not yet entered any plea or been arraigned. She remains in Washington and her next court date is Sept. 14.

Her attorney, Hank Coxe, told NBC News after her arrest that he does not publicly comment on pending legal matters. E! News has also reached out for comment but has not yet heard back.

In media interviews last summer, Shanna denied having anything to do with Jared's murder.

She became a suspect in the court of public opinion not long after the killing, with the most salacious reports emphasizing her and Jared's contentious divorce proceedings and at least one report claiming she'd had an affair while they were married (which she denied). She remained silent for months, but said she finally had to speak out because the online speculation and photographers following her around had become too much. 

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"I feel for Jared's family and what they are going through. I can't even imagine," Shanna told the Florida Times-Union in June 2022. "I have tried to be respectful. I have tried to give them space."

Shanna said she had been "trying to focus on the kids" in the meantime. But, she added, "It is becoming necessary to respond. I didn't want it to make a spectacle. I want people to know where I am coming from."

She said that Mario, whom she married in 2018, had been one of her children's biggest supporters since the death of their father. The twins had already been in counseling due to the divorce, Shanna told the paper, and the same counselor was helping them process their loss.

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"You learn who your friends are," Shanna said. "I am fortunate enough to live in an amazing community and have an amazing family. The kids know they're loved. I would never want anybody to go through this. It's terrible to witness."

In her only TV interview, she told WJAX on July 5, 2022, that she and Jared had shared "happy moments" as parents of "the two most beautiful children in the world."

Acknowledging that court records showed a five-year-long custody battle following their split in 2015 (the Times-Union counted close to 300 entries and motions in their divorce file), Shanna told the station, "Anytime divorce comes into any situation, it's messy. It just is. I will say that I think that we both love our kids."

But eventually, there was a standing Wednesday date with the twins for whichever parent didn't have them that week. The night Jared was killed, Shanna said tearfully that she remembered her son saying it was "'a good date night'" as she tucked him in.

Shanna said she was "shocked" when she found out her ex was dead. "I fell to the floor," she recalled, "because I was devastated." She said she didn't know what had happened to Jared, but she was cooperating with detectives and didn't expect to face criminal charges herself.

"Even though we didn't always get along," Shanna said, "he was still the father of my kids."

(E! and NBC News are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)

For more true crime updates on your need-to-know cases, head to Oxygen.com.

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