Travis County, Texas: A former Holmdel High School student is accused of conspiring with her boyfriend to pay someone to kill his parents in order to collect an inheritance and life insurance money, police say. Their alleged murder-for-hire plot, which led to the death of the boyfriend's father, was uncovered by investigators who examined months of text messages and talked to informants who had spoken to the suspects about their plans, including a woman who was asked if she would partake in “illegal activities,” for cash, “anything from strippers to murder,” police say.
According to reports, Nicolas Shaughnessy and Jaclyn Edison, both 19 and both College Station residents, were arrested May 29, nearly three months after Shaughnessy’s jeweler father, Theodore “Ted” Shaughnessy, was shot dead in his Travis County home near Austin. Nicolas’ mother, Corey Shaughnessy, was shot at during the March 2 incident, but returned fire and then called 911 and hid in a closet until police arrived, the Travis County Sheriff’s Office says. One of the family’s dogs was also fatally shot.
Shaughnessy and Edison were both arrested on warrants charging them with criminal solicitation of first-degree murder, a charge that carries a sentence of up to 99 years in prison if convicted. The gunman or gunmen have not been arrested, but police say they are following leads. “Detectives are following a series of new leads in the case and will identify and apprehend them as quickly as possible,” the sheriff’s office said.
Ted Shaughnessy, Nicolas’ father, was 55 and had recently celebrated his 30th wedding anniversary. He had owned Gallerie Jewelers in Austin since 1999 and his wife, Corey, is an artist and worked as certified gemologist appraiser at the store. His obituary stated, “Ted was a proud father to his son, Nicolas.”
Nicolas Shaughnessy, Who Police Say Remotely Turned Off the Alarm System at His Parent’s House the Night of the Murder, Is Being Held on $3 Million Bail & Edison’s Bail Was Set at $1 Million.
“Shaughnessy and Edison are alleged to have conspired together and hired someone to murder Shaughnessy’s parents, Theodore and Corey Shaughnessy,” Travis County public information officer Kristen Dark said in a statement. “At 4:45 am on Friday, March 2, 2018, Corey Shaughnessy called 911 and reported that an intruder had entered her home in the 9000 block of Oliver Dr. and that multiple shots had been fired. When deputies arrived on scene they discovered the body of Theodore Shaughnessy with multiple gunshot wounds.”
Corey Shaughnessy told police she and her husband woke up to the sound of their dogs barking about 4 a.m., according to court records. Ted Shaughnessy grabbed his handgun and went to check to see what was happening. Corey said she heard several gunshots and then got out of bed and grabbed another gun. She said someone began firing at her and she returned fire until she ran out of ammunition. She was not hit and hid in a closet, calling 911. Police responded and found Corey’s husband dead. The suspect or suspects had fled.
According to the affidavit filed in the case against Nick Shaughnessy and Edison, the younger Shaughnessy remotely logged into his parents’ security system and deactivated the alarms on the night of the home invasion. Investigators obtained records from ADT, which showed Nick’s College Station IP address logged into the system three times the night of the murder. Police said only Nick and his parents had access to the system. It was accessed after his father’s death at a point when his mother did not have access to her cell phone, police said. Surveillance video from the time of the break-in was deleted from the system, police said.
Police also say he left a window in his bedroom open and told the killer or killers to enter through the window. Investigators said Nick often entered the house through the window and had told friends to do so in the past.
According to court documents, police searched the College Station apartment where Nick Shaughnessy and Edison lived. They found a box of Sig .380 caliber bullets, the same brand and caliber found at the shooting scene. Police said six bullets were missing from the box.
Police said they also found a chat log between Edison and Shaughnessy from February 23 and 24 discussing a $50,000 payment for a “job."
Investigators Learned Shaughnessy Asked Several People if They Would Kill Someone for Money & Told Them He Would Get $2 Million in Life Insurance & Another $8 Million by Selling His Parent’s Home.
Police say they pieced together the young couple’s murder-for-hire plot through examinations of months worth of text messages sent by Shaughnessy and through interviews with friends and others who had talked to Shaughnessy and Edison. Police say Shaughnessy had spent weeks, even months, asking people if they wanted to commit murder for money.
Nick Shaughnessy told multiple people he would receive $1 million per parent upon their death through life insurance, a figure police confirmed, the Austin American-Statesman reports. He also told someone he would receive at least $8 million by also selling his parents’ home and business.
A woman who worked in the apartment complex in College Station where Shaughnessy and Edison lived together told police that two weeks before the incident, Shaughnessy asked her if she wanted to make money through “illegal activities,” and then told her “anything from strippers to murders.” Shaughnessy told her in a text message he would pay “$20,000 a head,” with an extra $15,000 incentive, and followed that up with two skeleton emojis, she told police. She said she then stopped responding to him.
Search warrants for Patterson’s cell phone and iPad turned up a conversation between Nicolas and Spencer on January 30. Nicolas asked if Patterson wanted to make $20,000. He later added the total would be $50,000, with “20 for each and 10 extra because 50 is a nice whole number.” On February 15, Shaughnessy told Patterson to look up how to start a Ponzi scheme. And on February 26, he told Patterson he would need help doing “cash drops,” which he explained meant dropping money off somewhere and leaving, police said.
Police also found an older exchange Shaughnessy had with his friend, Patterson, from August 2017, which they believe alluded to what happened the night his father was killed. Shaughnessy told Patterson he needed more cash and when asked if he had any suggestions, responded, “Plastic gloves Ski masks.” His friend said, “no no no.” Shaughnessy replied, “Fine fine. Just walk in shoot a family steal all their shit. … No mask needed cuz they’ll be dead,” the affidavit states.
According to the affidavit, police interviewed a confidential informant on May 29 who said Nicolas Shaughnessy had asked him to kill his parents in exchange for money. The informant told police Shaughnessy offered to pay him $10,000 per month. The informant also said he had a conversation in a car about it with Shaughnessy and Edison.
The informant told investigators Shaughnessy talked about a plan for “financial gain,” but said if that didn’t work out, there was “Plan B.” The informant said Edison had a “shocked” look on her face at the mention of “Plan B,” but Shaughnessy told her not to worry about it because the informant already knew what he was talking about. The informant told police he believed “Plan B” referred to Shaughnessy’s plan to have his parents killed, based on previous conversations, according to court documents.
Edison had previously attended Holmdel High School in New Jersey, where she played field hockey and was a cheerleader.
According to court documents, Edison and Shaughnessy secretly married in July 2017 and had been living together in College Station. Police found the marriage certificate at the apartment, which showed the officiant was Shaughnessy’s friend, Spencer Patterson.
The couple moved out of the apartment after the home invasion murder of Shaughnessy’s father. Nick Shaughnessy was living with his mother in Travis County, his lawyer says.
After his father’s death, Shaughnessy said he drove three hours from College Station to Travis County, according to court documents obtained by the Austin American-Statesman.When he arrived, police noted he did not show any emotion and did not express any concern for his mother, who had survived the incident, KXAN-TV reports .Photos taken by the local media on the day after the shooting show Shaughnessy being examined by forensic investigators and also show him walking with Jaclyn Edison along with detectives.
A neighbor and close family friend, Brian Colfack, told CBS Austin, that Shaughnessy, “comes from a well-to-do family. He’s been given pretty much everything he wants or wanted as a young man. I have no idea what happened in his life that caused him to turn so violent and cause him to turn away from all the things he had been brought up with.”
Caleb Miller, a neighbor of Shaughnessy and Edison in College Station, told KBTX-TV, “He was just a weird guy, a weird character. Really out of place with the college setting. He made sure to make a lot of points on his family’s wealth and stuff like that which is weird. And just some of the things he would say kind of and so it’s not really surprising at all."
Nick Shaughnessy still has the support of his family, including his mother, who police say he tried to have killed, the Austin American-Statesman reports.
“We have been working with the Shaughnessy family over the last several months as they mourn the loss of Ted,” his attorneys, Perry Minton and Rick Flores, said in a statement. “These allegations are not consistent in any way with the young man we have come to know. Nick has been living with his mother since this tragedy occurred. Ms. Shaughnessy stands firmly behind her son. We will review the evidence as it becomes available to us.”