Former Microsoft executive's ex-wife charged with having him slaughtered in front of his 2-year-old. She and her new husband could get the death penalty.

 Jared Bridegan, a former Microsoft executive and father of four, was slaughtered in front of his infant daughter while removing an obstacle from a road in Jacksonville, Florida, last year. According to authorities, his ex-wife, who was arrested early Thursday, played a "central and key role in [Bridegan's] cold, calculated and premeditated murder."

State Attorney Melissa Nelson said in a press conference, "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." 

Nelson indicated that a 4th Circuit grand jury indicted Shanna Gardner for first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, solicitation to commit first-degree murder, and child abuse, all related to the murder of Bridegan.

Gardner's Aug. 17 arrest comes months after a hitman pleaded guilty to shooting the 33-year-old and implicated Gardner's new husband.

Prosecutors indicated they will be seeking the death penalty for the victim's ex-wife as they have with Mario Fernandez Saldana, Gardner's new husband. 

The murder

TheBlaze previously reported that Bridegan was fatally shot on Feb. 16, 2022, in the area of Jacksonville Drive and Sanctuary Boulevard in front of his 2-year-old daughter, who was sitting in the back seat of his car. He had just dropped off his twin 9-year-olds at Gardner's residence. 

Responding to a call around 8 p.m., officers found Bridegan's body in a wooded area near the road but his daughter unharmed. Handgun shell casings were found at the scene as well as a damaged tire. The former Microsoft executive was reportedly shot at close range.

Officials indicated a tire had purposefully been set on the road, blocking the way. When Bridegan went to move the tire, police say "he was gunned down in cold blood."

Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Gene Paul Smith said, "This was a planned and target[ed] ambush and murder."

The hitman

In late January 2023, Smith announced that 61-year-old career criminal Henry Arthur Tenon had been charged in connection with Bridegan's killing with conspiracy to commit murder, second-degree murder with a weapon, accessory after the fact to capital felony, and child abuse.

Nelson noted that as part of Tenon's plea agreement with the state of Florida, "he has agreed to testify truthfully against those he worked with to murder Jared Bridegan. ... 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."

ABC News reported that phone records showed Tenon and Fernandez had 35 "phone contacts" in February 2022, the month Bridegan was murdered. The hitman and the disgruntled ex-wife's husband interacted by phone on multiple other occasions between March and June, according Fernandez's arrest warrant.

The new husband

Immediately after entering his guilty plea, a judge signed the arrest warrant for 35-year-old Mario Fernandez Saldana. Fernandez was slapped with the same charges his wife would later be hit with, then taken into custody without incident on March 16.

His arrest warrant spoke to his wife's "highly acrimonious divorce" with the victim.

Fernandez's pre-trial began earlier this month.

Kirsten Bridegan, the victim's widow and a mother to two of his children, said of Fernandez's arrest, "We have great relief knowing that two of the people behind my husband's murder are behind bars and are no longer a threat to our family. ... We are also still angry — angry that they were walking free while we were grappling with the reality that Jared wouldn't be here for any future memories, vacations or tender moments with our kids."

The ex-wife

The Florida Times-Union reported that Gardner, who divorced Bridegan in 2015, moved to Washington state with her children as the investigation into her ex-husband's murder prompted speculation over whether she may have had a hand in it.

She had relatives use an LLC to buy her a new home in West Richland, reported the New York Post.

It was there that Nelson indicated agents with the ATF Washington Field Division arrested Gardner.

Gardner will be extradited to Duval County, Florida, to face the murder charges.

"Henry Tenon did not act alone. Mario Fernandez did not plan alone," said Nelson. "Shanna Gardner's indictment acknowledges her central and key role in the cold, calculated and premeditated murder of Jared Bridegan."

Gardner claimed in an interview with WJAX-TV in July 2022 that she was "shocked" when she heard that Bridegan had been killed.

"I fell to the floor because I was devastated for what I was going to have to tell my kids," she said. "Even though we didn't always get along, he was still the father of my kids."

Kristen Bridegan said of Gardner's arrest, "From very, very early on, everything in my body and soul told me she was behind it. ... For 547 days we hoped and prayed that this day would come," reported the Times-Union.

Former Microsoft executive's ex-wife charged with having him slaughtered in front of his 2-year-old. She and her new husband could get the death penalty. Former Microsoft executive's ex-wife charged with having him slaughtered in front of his 2-year-old. She and her new husband could get the death penalty. Reviewed by Your Destination on August 18, 2023 Rating: 5

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