(Trends Wide) — Jared Bridegan was driving home with his 2-year-old daughter in the backseat of his car when he ran into a tire in the road, police in Jacksonville Beach, Florida said.
Bridegan, 33, a senior design manager at Microsoft, stopped the car and got out to move the obstruction, according to police, when he was shot and killed in February 2022.
On Thursday, authorities arrested and charged the current spouse of Bridegan’s ex-wife in what they called a “planned and directed ambush and homicide.”
Now, Mario Fernández-Saldana could face the death penalty. He was arrested in Orlando and will be sent back to Jacksonville. As of Friday morning, it was unknown if he had obtained an attorney.
He was arrested Thursday and charged by a Duval County grand jury with premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit murder, incitement to commit a felony, and child abuse related to the February 2022 murder.
Prosecutors say Fernandez-Saldana, 34, “was an integral part of the Bridegan solicitation, conspiracy and murder.”
They say they were led to him by another suspect in the case, whom Fernández-Saldana asked to commit the crime and who admitted to pulling the trigger, state attorney Melissa Nelson said at a news conference Thursday. This man had just pleaded guilty to his role in the Bridegan murder.
After Fernández-Saldana’s arrest, Bridegan’s widow spoke at the same press conference on Thursday.
“We have fought hard for the truth and the world now knows what we have known all along, that Jared really was an innocent victim,” said Kirsten Bridegan. “We are also angry, angry that they walked free as we deal with the reality that Jared would not be here for future memories, vacations or tender moments with our children.”
The girl was found without physical injuries.
According to Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Paul Smith, Bridegan had weekly dinners with his twins, then 9, who are his children with his ex-wife, and his 2-year-old daughter, one of his second wife’s two young children.
Bridegan had dropped the twins off at their mother’s house and was driving her 2-year-old daughter home when she came across the tire, according to the affidavit. Police believe the tire was placed there on purpose to make it stop.
Bridegan got out of the car to move the tire when he was “murdered in cold blood,” Smith said. Nothing was removed from the vehicle and the 2-year-old girl was left in her car seat with no physical injuries.
“This was a planned and directed ambush and homicide,” Smith said when announcing the first arrest in the case in January.
That’s when police arrested and charged Henry Tenon, 62, with conspiracy to commit manslaughter with a weapon, accessory to a felony, and child abuse, state attorney Melissa Nelson said at the time.
Jail records show Tenon had been in the custody of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office since August 2022 on unrelated charges.
Tenon pleaded guilty to manslaughter with a weapon and agreed to “testify truthfully against any accomplice” immediately before Fernández-Saldaña was arrested, the state attorney’s office said.
The affidavit in the case indicates that Tenon was a tenant in a house owned by Fernández-Saldana. Investigators found three checks that Fernández-Saldana wrote to Tenon in October 2022. Phone records show the men had more than 60 phone contacts with each other.
The affidavit says Bridegan had a “very acrimonious divorce” and “contentious relationship” with his ex-wife and her second husband. However, authorities did not reveal a possible motive.
Tenon’s attorney declined to comment.
Trends Wide’s Jennifer Henderson, Rebekah Riess and Jamiel Lynch contributed to this report.