Major break in Jared Bridegan murder mystery after ex-wife moves across country
Ex-wife of slain Microsoft executive Jared Bridegan walked 2,800 miles from Florida in the Pacific Northwest as investigators close to announcing an arrest is imminent in the unsolved murder, Fox News Digital has learned.
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Almost a year after the father of four was executed in front of his toddler, Bexley, North Florida Shanna Gardner-Fernandez quietly uprooted her 10-year-old twins with Jared and moved to West Richland, Washington.
When asked Monday to comment on the significant developments in the case, she replied, “No, I’m sorry.” Minutes later, she was spotted in her white Tesla in a grocery store parking lot, talking on her cellphone.
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Jared’s second wife, Kirsten Bridegan, with whom he shares Bexley, 3, and London, 1, said she was stunned Gardner-Fernandez had moved so far.
“Honestly, I was shocked,” she told Fox News Digital in an interview Monday. “First the twins lost their dad, then they’ve been completely cut off from their own sisters, and now they’re being pushed away from their school, their friends, their sports teams. They’re so isolated, and it’s what worries me.
Jared had custody of the twins every two weeks, but shortly after his murder, Gardner-Fernandez ended all contact with his family, according to Kirsten.
“It was another loss,” she said. “As well as losing Jared, my children lost their siblings. I lost my stepchildren. I tried for months and months to make contact and got nowhere.
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Gardner-Fernandez, 35, and Bridegan, 33, divorced in 2016 – but they continued to fight over finances and custody of the twins in family court until his death on February 16, 2022.
A source of law enforcement told Fox News Digital that an arrest is expected as early as Wednesday but would not give details.
Gardner-Fernandez and her second husband, Mario Fernandezremain suspects in the murder mystery, according to a second source.
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After the murder, the couple retained the services of top criminal defense attorney Henry Coxe III, who declined to comment for the story on Monday.
Less than a year after the children traumatically lost their father, Gardner-Fernandez removed them from their Jacksonville Beach private school and moved them to a six-bedroom, four-bathroom home in the Tri-Cities area of southeastern Washington.
Property records show the modern ranch home was purchased in September for $1 million by Whitesand LLC, which lists the Alpine, Utah, address of his parents, Shelli and Sterling Gardner.
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Shelli Gardner founded paper craft company Stampin’ Up, which has estimated annual revenue of more than $100 million per year, according to IncFact.
Her parents are prominent members of the Mormon community known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).
They were in West Richland last week to visit their daughter and grandchildren – and attended a solo Sunday service at a local LDS church.
Jared was a strong believer. Gardener-Fernandez drifted from religion after they married in 2010 and then reportedly had an affair, sparking their acrimonious split, Fox News Digital previously reported.
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His second marriage is also shaky. Shortly after the murder, neighbors said they no longer saw Fernandez at the couple’s $1million Jacksonville Beach home, which they co-own, and he did not join her for the move through the country.
It went on sale Oct. 27 and then pulled from the market Jan. 3, according to public records.
Gardner-Fernandez’s main connection to West Richland appears to be a friend she met at a baking conference in 2020, Marla Rogers, who owns the house next door.
Rogers runs Marla’s Cookie Co. from her home, much like Gardner-Fernandez ran her own now-shuttered bakery business, Beach Baked 904, from her home in Florida.
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Gardner-Fernandez made a brief appearance Sunday in a video Rogers posted on his company’s website. PageInstagram.
As Rogers is seen cleaning up after teaching a cookie decorating class, Gardner-Fernandez walks into her kitchen wearing a shirt emblazoned with the phrase “PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME DO THINGS!”
Jared was shot on February 16, 2022 in Jacksonville Beach after taking his twin boys and Bexley, then 2, to dinner. The software engineer had just dropped the twins off at their mother’s when he encountered a tire on the one-way road.
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He got out of his Volkswagen Atlas to move it and was shot multiple times by an unknown assailant as Bexley watched from his car seat.
“She has good days where she’s happy,” Kirsten said. “But it’s going to be a lifetime for her to process those feelings and the trauma of what she’s been through.”
Few details have been released about the investigation, a joint effort by the Jacksonville Beach Police Department and the State’s Attorney’s Office for the Fourth Judicial Circuit led by Melissa Nelson.
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Early in the investigation, police asked for the public’s help in identifying a dark blue Ford F-150 captured in surveillance footage near the crime scene, and there’s a $55,000 reward for the information leading to an arrest.
Kirsten said she and her daughters were trying to heal, but the New Year was especially difficult.
“We’ve finished the last year of being a complete family and started a whole new year that won’t have those memories or Jared in them,” she said. “It was very difficult.”
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