One of three people accused in a plot to kill a St. Johns County father of four said “it ain’t looking good” when talking about his case in a jailhouse interview.
It’s part of evidence News4JAX obtained and reviewed from the Jacksonville Beach murder of 33-year-old Jared Bridegan, who was ambushed and killed in February 2022 after stopping to remove a tire from the road.
In response to an open records request from News4JAX, the State Attorney’s Office released a file of discovery material that includes body camera footage and video of the interview with the first of three people arrested in the high-profile murder.
Henry Tenon, 62, pleaded guilty to being the triggerman. Investigators said Bridegan’s ex-wife Shanna Gardner, and her husband Mario Fernandez hired him for the attack.
August 2022 body camera footage from a pair of Jacksonville Sheriff’s officers starts with a simple traffic stop for speeding on Jacksonville’s Westside. Police learned the man behind the wheel was wanted for something much more sinister.
“This is a suspect connected to the Jax Beach murder,” one of the officers tells the other, after confirming through a phone call.
Detectives had been planning to talk to Henry Tenon anyway about his involvement in the ambush murder of Bridegan off Sanctuary Way six months prior. Patrol officers found a small amount of marijuana and shotgun in his trunk, but noted it was in bad shape. The gun discovered is not believed to have been used in the murder.
“Either that thing was sitting at the bottom of a river or that thing is old,” one officer told Tenon after the man said he found the gun and was trying to restore it.
Tenon was told he’s under arrest for driving with a revoked license and being a felon with a firearm. He’d been in state prison for a year in 2000 for habitual traffic offenses.
Patrol officers hauled him off to the Crime Gun Intelligence Center, which JSO shares with the state attorney and the ATF. Then, a CGIC detective and a Jacksonville Beach investigator tell Tenon the real reason they want to talk to him.
“Somehow Henry you got caught up in something, you got put in the middle of something and now it’s spiraling out of control because these other people are involved, because this is your vehicle involved that you’re in, are going to point the finger at you and they already have,” he said, while sitting across from the suspect. “Because no one wants to go to prison for the rest of their life. Nobody.”
Much of the interview is muted, redacted because the overall case is still open, and evidence the detectives show is covered up with a black box, but it ends with Tenon invoking his right to an attorney.
“There ain’t nothing else I can give you and I think I need an attorney,” he said. The interview ends there.
It isn’t until January that Tenon was be charged with Bridegan’s murder. A grand jury indictrf him and he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and agreed to testify against the two alleged co-conspirators: Bridegan’s ex-wife Shanna Gardner and her new husband Mario Fernandez. Both were later arrested, in September and March, charged with first-degree murder and setting up the hit. Each could face the death penalty, state attorney Melissa Nelson said.
What’s the connection?
Besides owning the truck that was seen leaving the killing in surveillance video, Tenon rented a room in a home that Fernandez owned, which was seen in body cam footage from the morning police arrested Tenon for that traffic stop.
Also in the evidence file are calls Tenon made while behind bars at the Duval County jail. In one, he told an unidentified woman “it ain’t looking good, let’s put it at that…I’m probably going to be here for a while.”
“I wish you would call with good news like you’re getting released or something,” she said in a separate call.
“It don’t look that way anyways, so far, it ain’t,” he replied.
“Well, hopefully, they realize that it’s not you,” she added. The majority of the call records are redacted, so the context cannot be confirmed.
Tenon remains behind bars at the Duval County jail. He faces at least 15 years in prison. His co-defendants are awaiting trial, after pleading not guilty.