Documents list two additional suspects in Jared Bridegan’s murder

Posted at 8:12 PM, February 16, 2024

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Court TV) — Newly obtained court documents indicate that police investigated at least two other suspects in the murder of Microsoft executive Jared Bridegan.

Shanna Gardner and Mario Fernandez Saldana appear in court

Shanna Gardner and her husband, Mario Fernandez Saldana, appeared in court together on Dec. 1, 2023. (Court TV)

Bridegan was shot and killed in what police say was a coordinated murder-for-hire plot on Feb. 16, 2022. Three people have been charged in his murder, including his ex-wife, Shanna Gardner, her new husband, Mario Fernandez Saldana, and his former tenant, Henry Tenon. Tenon has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty for both Gardner and Fernandez Saldana.

Court TV obtained additional documents in the case, filed in late Jan. and early Feb. 2023, in which investigators ask a judge for continued access to wiretaps to intercept calls between the alleged co-conspirators.

“In contrast to the stark randomness of the murder, there are relationships, circumstances, and investigative facts and evidence suggesting Bridegan’s murder was anything but random,” officers said in the application. “Instead, the investigation reveals Bridegan’s murder is the culmination of events that began on February 23, 2015, when his wife at the time, Shanna Lee Gardner, filed for divorce. For reasons that will be outlined in greater detail, the investigation has identified five people likely involved in a conspiracy to murder Jared Bridegan.”

The application lists Gardner, Fernandez Saldana and Tenon, but the other two names were redacted. While no names were offered in the document, investigators offered clues as to how one of the unnamed parties fits into the group: “[redacted] and Fernandez Saldana have known each other for many years. Fernandez Saldana dated [redacted]’s daughter in high school. [Redacted] is a former reserve police officer and convicted felon. [redacted] admitted to law [redacted] he owned a 10mm caliber gun but said he did not know where it was. A 10 mm caliber was used to murder Bridegan.”

READ MORE: Blame Game: What the suspects told police about Jared Bridegan’s murder

Investigators said in the documents that Gardner began using encryption and other methods in an attempt to conceal what she was talking about from law enforcement. A series of redacted conversations were included in the report, which investigators said show that Gardner had been coordinating with her sister and a friend to relay communications between co-conspirators to evade police.

Photo of Jared Bridegan

Jared Bridegan was killed on Feb. 16, 2022. (Jacksonville Beach Police Department)

Police also revealed new information about the timeline of Bridegan’s murder, saying that two weeks before the shooting Bridegan had sent Gardner an email in which he told her he planned to have one of the two children they shared baptized in the Mormon church. Both Gardner and Bridegan were Mormon when the pair married, but when Gardner filed for divorce in 2015 she had begun leaving the faith.

Another motive police pointed to was financial. In the affidavit reviewed by Court TV, investigators said that a trust put into place by Gardner’s parents only allowed her unfettered access to the money after she had “no further legal entanglements with her ex-husband, Jared G. Bridegan.”

“On February 23, 2022, one week after Bridegan’s murder and precisely seven years after she filed for dissolution of their marriage, a suggestion of death [Bridegan’s death] appeared in the records of their dissolution case with the St. Johns County Clerk of Court. By all accounts, in the months and years preceding the murder, Gardner wanted to leave the State of Florida with her children. However, her dissolution decree prevented her from leaving the state permanently with her children without an agreement from Bridegan or a court order. With Bridegan’s death, she became free to leave the state with her children – which she has done. And with no legal entanglements with ‘her ‘ex-husband”, she can now also control her trust funds.”

Police said they believe that Gardner gave the money for Bridegan’s murder to Fernandez Saldana who then arranged for it to be carried out.