Parents of Jared Bridegan ask Washington state judge for rights to visit murdered son’s children

It’s a fight for visitation involving a family that was torn apart by a brutal murder.

The parents of Jared Bridegan, a father of four who was killed in an ambush murder in Jacksonville Beach two years ago, are asking a Washington state judge on Friday for visitation rights with Bridegan’s two older children.

Their mother is Shanna Gardner, Bridegan’s ex-wife who is accused of orchestrating his shooting death with her estranged husband Mario Fernandez. Both are awaiting trial for first-degree murder and other charges.

MORE: How investigators quickly keyed in on Jared Bridegan’s ex-wife, her husband following ambush murder in Jax Beach

It’s an unimaginable situation for Bridegan’s older two children, twins who are now 11 years old. News4JAX is not giving their full names or showing their faces for their privacy.

“I know how much they’re struggling through this,” said aunt Ashley Bridegan. “And I know how much they miss their father. They have told me that. And so it is extremely tough to see what they’re going through now to not only have that separation with their siblings, their stepmom but trying to heal with what they’ve gone through, you know?”

Ashley Bridegan spoke to News4JAX from Utah while preparing for a visitation hearing in Washington state where the twins live with their maternal grandparents. Jared Bridegan’s younger daughters, Bexley and London, live in Florida with his widow Kirsten.

“It has been incredibly devastating because there’s been that separation,” Ashley Bridegan said. “So not only have they lost that support, you know that you can find your siblings, but they have lost each other. And so it’s been extremely tough.”

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After Gardner’s arrest, her parents took full custody of the twins but Jared Bridegan’s parents have been asking a judge for in-person, unsupervised visitation.

“The right scenario would be for the twins to be involved in their dad’s side of the family, you know, to have visitation rights to see each other regularly to talk rather regularly to have that bond, you know, restore what was there,” Ashley Bridegan said.

She said the children only had one supervised visit with her parents, Gaylord and JoAnne Bridegan, and weekly video calls.

It’s a costly legal battle so their friends started a GoFundMe to raise money for attorneys.

Ashley Bridegan said her family has talked about getting full custody of the older children, but they want the children to choose.

“They’re comfortable in the state of Washington, we don’t want to rip that away from them. So we just want them to be able to have a choice and say, you know, where do you guys want to be and if it’s not with us, we want to be involved in your life,” she said.

Ashley Bridegan said her family will continue to fight for what they believe is right as they go through the painful process of a pending criminal trial for Jared’s senseless murder.

News4JAX reached out to an attorney for Gardner’s parents asking for their comment on the visitation case but they did not immediately respond.

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