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EXCLUSIVE: The ex-wife of slain Microsoft executive Jared Bridegan asked his widow for his death certificate just 12 days after he was gunned down in front of his 2-year-old daughter in a tony suburb of north Florida, Fox News has learned.
“My attorney has requested a copy of Jared’s death certificate for the family court. You can send it to me or to him and his paralegal directly, whichever you prefer,” wrote Shanna Gardner-Fernandez in the terse Feb. 28 email to Kirsten Bridegan.
Less than two weeks earlier an unknown assailant fatally shot the 33-year-old father of four, as he stepped out of his car to move a tire from the road.
Kirsten Bridegan, 31, who shares Bexley, 2, and London, 1, with Jared Bridegan, said she was shocked by the email.
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A photo combination of Kirsten and Jared Bridegan with their daughter London and his ex-wife Shanna Gardner-Fernandez.
(Courtesy of Kirsten Bridegan/Facebook)
“I was in my car, and my hands were shaking, my heart was beating so fast,” she recalled. “I was like who does this? This is so evil. Here I am planning a funeral, and she’s asking for a death certificate.”
Jared Bridegan’s mysterious slaying unfolded Feb. 16 after he dropped off his 10-year-old twins at his ex-wife’s house in Jacksonville Beach.
On his way home to St. Augustine, with Bexley strapped in her car seat, he came upon a tire on a wooded stretch of Sanctuary Boulevard and stopped to move it.
A family portrait of Jared and Kirsten Bridegan.
(Infinite Focus Photography/Madeline Insignares)
The assailant opened fire, killing Bridegan in front of Bexley, then fled.
Gardner-Fernandez, 35, had been engaged in near constant litigation with her ex-husband over finances and custody of the twins since their divorce in 2016.
Her parents, Sterling and Shelli Gardner, are prominent members of the Mormon community in Utah, and financially support her, according to court records.
Her mother founded the paper-craft company Stampin Up!, which has an estimated annual revenue of over $100 million a year, according to IncFact.
Gardner-Fernandez left the faith while her ex-husband continued to follow the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which had become a major point of contention between them, sources told Fox News Digital.
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Kirsten Bridegan didn’t respond to the email — but Jared Bridegan’s death certificate is the final entry on the docket for his divorce and custody case that spanned six years.
Jared and Kristen Bridegan embrace on a family vacation.
(Courtesy of Kristen Bridegan)
Noted New York City-based defense lawyer Todd Spodek, who also specializes in matrimonial law, said that Gardner-Fernandez’s request was highly unusual.
“I would never have my clients do anything like this, especially given the acrimonious relationship between the ex-wife and the widow. There was no urgency to the matter and the request could be misconstrued,” Spodek said.
“Attorneys have process servers and paralegals who can easily obtain a death certificate. It makes no sense to reach out to the wife,” he added.
Shanna Gardner-Fernandez poses with her husband Mario Fernandez and her twins from her marriage to Jared Bridegan.
In an email sent eight minutes before the message requesting the death certificate, Gardner-Fernandez asked the grieving widow to return a set of school library books that were borrowed by the twins.
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“You can drop them off at any public library and they will return them to Ms. Stacy, or return them to the school directly,” Gardner-Fernandez wrote.
Kirsten Bridegan said that after losing her husband in such a brutal way, returning a couple of library books wasn’t on her list of priorities.
Five days earlier, the two women got into a dispute over the funeral. Gardner-Fernandez wanted to attend the memorial with the twins — but Kirsten Bridegan told her that she was not invited.
Kirsten Bridegan offered to pick up the twins and drop them off herself — but Gardner-Fernandez refused, insisting that they could not go without her, according to text messages viewed by Fox News Digital.
In response, Gardner-Fernandez said she would organize her own memorial for the twins and her family.
Jared and Kirsten Bridegan pose for an engagement photo.
(Courtesy fo Courtney Fonda )
In the wake of the murder, a series of unflattering stories ran in various national news outlets about Gardner-Fernandez.
A tattoo parlor staffer told Fox News Digital that Gardner-Fernandez had gotten a clitoris piercing in 2015 and other services while she was estranged from Jared Bridegan but still living under the same roof.
She complained of her ex and asked the employee if he knew anyone who could help her “shut him up.”
Jared Bridegan baking brownies with his daughter Bexley. He built the wood stool she sits on, so she could help him in the kitchen.
(Courtesy fo Kirsten Bridegan)
Gardner-Fernandez and her husband Mario Fernandez hired high-powered criminal defense attorney Henry Coxe III, Fox News exclusively reported in June.
The couple remain suspects in the murder, a law-enforcement source said.
In response to the negative publicity, Gardner-Fernandez sat down for two softball interviews with local media outlets, casting herself as a victim of harassment.
A photo combination of Shanna Gardner-Fernandez showing off her muscles and her with her husband Mario Fernandez.
Gardner-Fernandez told a local paper that she hired Coxe to help protect her family from publicity.
Kirsten questioned this explanation — as did legal experts.
“The claim that Mr. Coxe was hired to represent Shanna related to keeping images of the kids out of the media is a hard one to believe for many reasons,” Bridegan said.
A poster announced a $55,000 reward for information about the unsolved murder of Jared Bridegan.
(Jacksonville Beach Police Department)
“To this day I have yet to be personally contacted by Shanna or Mr. Coxe regarding this matter, and Shanna’s own mother has blasted images of the kids on her very public blog, so it’s either a smokescreen or Mr. Coxe is inept at his job, which I doubt is the case.”
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Coxe’s only area of expertise is criminal law, according to the biography on his firm’s website.
There is a $55,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer.
Jared Bridegan was gunning down Feb. 16 in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, after he encountered this tire in the road.
(Jacksonville Beach Police Department)
Anyone with information should contact the Jacksonville Beach Police Department at 904-270-1661 or First Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
A majority of the reward money came from a fundraiser launched by Jared’s brother, Adam Bridegan, and a friend, Nate Checketts. When asked whether the Gardner family had donated, Adam Bridegan responded, “Not yet, but we would welcome their assistance.”
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Sergeant Tonya Tator of the Jacksonville Police Beach Department, the lead agency on the case, didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
The Office of the State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial District in Jacksonville, which is also involved in the investigation, declined to comment.
Shanna Gardner-Fernandez and Mario Fernandez also declined to comment.
Haley Chi-Sing contributed to this report.
Rebecca Rosenberg is a veteran journalist and book author with a focus on crime and criminal justice. Email tips to email@example.com and @ReRosenberg.