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'We need answers:' Six months since the murder of Jared Bridegan, family & detectives push for justice

Tuesday marks 6 months since the murder of a local father of four, Jared Bridegan. His wife and investigators are continuing their push for answers and justice.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — "I will protect Mama!" says Kirsten Bridegan's young daughter as she crawls into her mother's arms. "Make sure the bad guys don't hurt you."

The moment, just before bedtime, was caught on a baby monitor in the couple's St. Johns County home. Kirsten Bridegan says it is moments like those that dig into her heart already hurting from grief.

Her daughter, now 3, worries about her mother's safety after witnessing her father's murder six months ago.  

Jared Bridegan was murdered after dropping off his twins at his ex-wife's home in the Sanctuary neighborhood of Jacksonville Beach.  Investigators believe he stopped to move a tire out of the roadway when he was ambushed, shot multiple times in front of his then two-year-old daughter, who remained strapped in her car seat until help arrived. 

Kirsten Bridegan, his wife and the mother of his two youngest children, says sometimes her daughter understands her father is gone, but other days she talks about looking forward to seeing him at future events. 

"It's excruciating because I then have to go back and explain, no honey dad is not going to be there. His body got hurt, dad died, and then it just starts all over," she explains.

RELATED: 'He is not just this photo you see on TV:' Wife continues to push for tips in the death of husband, father of four

As the investigation into who killed Jared Bridegan continues, Jacksonville Beach Police Sgt. Tonya Tator says the department has received hundreds of tips. Many around the whereabouts of a blue, Ford F-150 believed to be connected to the murder.

"Every tip that comes in has to be investigated to the fullest, until we have nothing else to go on, so that is time-consuming itself," says Sgt. Tator.

The truck, so far, has not been located. But Sgt. Tator says don't mistake investigator's silence for inaction. Just because the department hasn't released more information, doesn't mean it isn't coming in.

She says the department isn't just after the shooter, but anyone who may have helped.

"If you are scared, reach out to us," tells Sgt. Tator. "Let us know you are scared, but you have information that can be helpful in this case and we will most definitely work with you."

"I heard a quote once, I think it was - the wheels of justice are slow, but they turn. Is that where we are here?" asked First Coast News Katie Jeffries.

"Yes, it is a slow process, every day detectives are working on it," responded Sgt. Tator.

Right now, there are no named suspects or persons of interest.

RELATED: Jacksonville Beach ex-wife of slain Bridegan speaks out: 'I want people to know where I am coming from'

In the national media though, there has been much speculation about Jared Bridegan's acrimonious divorce from his first wife, Shanna Gardner-Fernandez.  

One story claimed she asked a local tattoo artist about someone who could "shut him up."  In an interview with the Florida Times-Union, Gardner-Fernandez called the implications that she was involved sensationalist and inaccurate, and she felt threatened by the scrutiny.

Kirsten Bridegan wants to make sure Jared's story isn't forgotten, creating the Instagram account "JusticeForJaredB" and speaking to news outlets from across the nation.  But always in the back of her mind, the fear.

"There is a part of me that worries about me being so vocal and fighting so much that they could try to hurt me or Bexley, because Bexley was there," tells Kirsten.

She says another tragedy in the midst of her husband's murder is that people now remember him for how he died and not the man and father he was to his twins from his first marriage and his two children with her.  

"He would spend countless hours making up activities to do together, he wrote jokes in their lunch every single day," she describes, "He was just a quality guy who cared about people in his life."

It is a sentiment echoed by Jared Bridegan's brother, Adam.

"In many regards, I looked up to him as a father and husband just the way he treated Kirsten and his kids," tells Adam. "The list goes on as afar as how many lives have been shattered by this tragedy and all of us are suffering and we live in this fear.  There is no accountability and there are no answers, we need answers." 

Answers that will help Kirsten Bridegan explain to her daughters one day why their father was killed.

"What do you hope the next six months will bring?" asked FCN's Katie Jeffries.

"I hope it brings justice, I hope that those who were involved in his murder are caught. I hope that we can get to a trial quickly.  I just hope there is a resolution and I can answer Bexley when she asks me why," tells Bridegan.

We did reach out to the attorney for Shanna Gardner-Fernandez, but she declined to comment for this story.

There is currently a combined $55,000 reward for information in the murder of Jared Bridegan. 

 If you know anything, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477) or you can call the Jacksonville Beach Police Department at 904-270-1667.

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