A Florida mother whose Microsoft executive husband was executed in front of their toddler nearly one year ago has launched a charity to help other kids cruelly caught in the middle of crimes.
Hoping to offer a measure of comfort to children in similar circumstances, Kirsten Bridegan created a nonprofit to start Bexley Boxes, which provide care kits to law enforcement agencies containing diapers, toys, snacks, wipes and formula.
With the crime still unsolved, Kirsten said the campaign helped her cope with her grief.
“It’s been really difficult having had such loss and seemingly no justice, feeling like I’m treading water and that there’s not much else I can do except try to help children in similar situations,” Kirsten told Fox News Digital.
A family portrait of Jared and Kirsten Bridegan with their daughters Bexley and London and Jared’s twins from his first marriage. (Infinite Focus Photography/Madeline Insignares)
Jared Bridegan, 33, was shot dead on Feb. 16, 2022, after dropping off the twins he shares with his ex-wife Shanna Gardner-Fernandez at her home in Jacksonville Beach.
He had been driving home with his then 2-year-old daughter he shares with his new spouse, Kristen.
The doting father spotted a tire in the middle of a secluded stretch of road and stopped his car to remove it.
An unknown assailant opened fire with Bexley looking on from her car seat.
Kirsten Bridegan and her daughters Bexley and London pose with St. Johns County Sheriff Robert Hardwick and other law enforcement officers. (Kiara Talbot/ St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office)
The terrified toddler remained in the car for three full minutes near her father’s lifeless body until a passerby stumbled on the gruesome scene.
Kirsten was at home with the couple’s then 7-month-old daughter, London.
Police took the shaken child to the Jacksonville Beach Police Department, where she waited hours without a sippy cup or proper-sized diapers as investigators interviewed her mother.
“They didn’t have anything really besides a coloring book and a squishy police car, and that just stuck with me for months,” she said.
Jared and Kirsten Bridegan pose for an engagement photo. (Courtesy of Courtney Fonda )
The first delivery went to the Jacksonville Beach police, who are heading up the investigation into her husband’s slaying.
Kirsten visited the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Thursday to drop off another Bexley Box.
Dozens of law enforcement officers — including St. John’s Sheriff Robert Hardwick — were there to greet the grieving mother.
“Kirsten and her family’s strength in the midst of a terrible tragedy is humbling,” Hardwick told Fox News Digital. “We look forward to partnering with her to further her mission in ensuring that every police station or agency has a Bexley Box.”
Kirsten Bridegan poses with her daughters Bexley and London, who are standing on a Bexley Box at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. (Kiara Tolbert/ St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office)
She profusely thanked the crowd of law enforcement officers for their support and told them how her visits with police have helped her daughter heal.
“Bexley for a while, would freeze when she heard sirens, she would panic,” Kirsten said. “Now, police are good. It’s not always scary, she doesn’t meet them just when bad things happen. They’re there to help us.”
It was the seventh refillable box Kirsten has delivered — and the contents have all been donated through her Bridegan Foundation nonprofit.
She has also raised more than $22,000 on givebutter.com to support her mission.
Shanna Gardner-Fernandez and her husband Mario Fernandez pose in a car. Her ex-husband, Jared Bridegan, was fatally gunned down Feb. 16, 2022. (Facebook)
The murder investigation, conducted by the Jacksonville Beach Police Department and State Attorney Melissa Nelson’s Office, is ongoing and no suspects have been publicly named.
Jared and his ex, Gardner-Fernandez, had an acrimonious divorce and custody battle that only ended with his death.
She and her husband, Mario Fernandez, retained high-powered criminal defense attorney Henry Coxe III shortly after the slaying but denied any involvement in the crime. The lawyer didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
A poster announces a $55,000 reward for information about the unsolved murder of Jared Bridegan. (Jacksonville Beach Police Department)
As Kirsten tearfully spoke at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, Bexley walked over to her mother and gave her a hug before returning to her front row seat.
“My daddy died, and he’s in heaven,” the little girl told the deputy next to her. “That’s why my mommy’s sad.”
Emmett Jones 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 protected] and @ReRosenberg.