Murder-for-hire suspect argued with mom over $30K the week father was killed

Crime

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Investigators say a teenager accused of hiring someone to kill his father was going through “financial difficulties” leading up to the deadly shooting in southwest Travis County.

An investigator also found a torn-up paper inside 19-year-old Nicolas Shaughnessy’s College Station apartment. According to search warrants recently obtained by KXAN, when law enforcement pieced the paper back together, it “appeared to depict a hand-drawn diagram of the murder crime scene.”

Nicolas’ father, Theodore “Ted” Shaughnessy, 55, was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds after an early-morning intruder began firing at him and his wife around 4:45 a.m. March 2. Investigators say the intruder was in the home at least 17 minutes before the first shot was fired, but the property inside was not disturbed.

Nicolas was the sole beneficiary of $2 million in the event of his parent’s death, according to a search warrant.

Money Owed

A detective said Nicolas told them he owed his mother $30,000 and had an argument with her about the money the week his father was shot and killed, according to a search warrant filed May 8 in Travis County District Court. The money was a loan from Nicolas’ mother to help him start a day trading business, he told a detective.

Nicolas’ wife, Jaclyn Edison, 19, told investigators Nicolas worked from home and only did stock trades for himself, using his own money.

Nicolas also told the detective he felt held back by having to pay his mother stipends and kept some of the money for himself, the search warrant states. But, according to text messages between Edison and a friend, the two suspects didn’t have much in their combined bank account.

“Only u [sic] know I’m broke,” Edison texted a friend. A search warrant says the text messages also included two screenshots: one of Edison’s bank account balance of $1.92 and another of her joint bank account with Nicolas, which had $1.65 in it.

When searching Edison’s phone, investigators also found a three-way chat between her, Nicolas and one of Theodore’s neighbors. In the chat, which investigators learned was deleted from Nicolas’ phone, the neighbor says she went out of her way to loan Nicolas $2,600.

The neighbor said Nicolas was supposed to pay her back in December, but it was already February and she hadn’t been paid yet. The neighbor also said she was going to talk to Nicolas’ parents about the problem if she didn’t hear back from them.

KXAN went by neighbors’ homes again on Tuesday in light of the new information.

“We’re a tight-knit community out here — we’re friends with the Shaughnessys,” said one neighbor to KXAN’s Erin Cargile. “You’ll be hard-pressed to find somebody to talk to you. This is tough. We love Nicolas.”

In the week leading up to the shooting, Nicolas received $530 after selling a gold bracelet to a jewelry store in College Station. According to a search warrant, the owner told Nicolas he could get more money if he sold the personalized bracelet to his parents, who are longtime owners of Gallerie Jewelers in central Austin. But, the owner recalls Nicolas said he couldn’t sell the bracelet, which had his grandfather’s initials on it, to his parents because it was a gift from his grandparents.

After the shooting, an employee at Nicolas’ housing complex in College Station said the suspect told them all his accounts were frozen because his father had been murdered and that he wouldn’t be able to pay his rent. Investigators say that was a lie; his accounts had not been frozen, according to the search warrant.

When speaking with Nicolas following the murder, investigators say it seemed like the suspect was “versed in police investigation techniques.”

A detective said Nicolas tried to direct investigators’ attention away from possible evidence, telling them about a nearby convenience store with cameras that only recorded the inside of the store, not the parking lot. After looking into Nicolas’ comment, investigators found it to be true and thought it was “unusual that Nicolas would know specific details about the recording capabilities of surveillance cameras at a convenience store.”

Nicolas also told a detective that he began going on ridealongs with the College Station Police Department months before the shooting. And, on the day of the murder, when detectives went to interview Nicolas’ mother, Corey Shaughnessy, the teen said he wanted to be with her at all times, according to a search warrant.

Corey was in the bedroom at the time of the shooting, heard a hail of bullets, and then saw a bright light and shadows at the door to the bedroom. According to court records, the suspects began shooting at her as she returned fire with her .357 revolver, shooting until she ran out of bullets.

She then ran into her closet and called 911. Responding deputies found Theodore dead on the kitchen floor in a large pool of blood. One of the couple’s two Rottweilers was also shot and killed.

Corey stood by her son’s side after the shooting. Nicolas’ attorneys previously told KXAN in a statement that the allegations against him are not consistent with “the young man we have come to know.” The statement, issued May 30, goes on to say, “Nick has been living with his mother since this tragedy occurred Ms. Shaughnessy stands firmly behind her son.”

During the investigation, a detective previously met with two different confidential informants, one who said Nicolas asked him to kill his parents in exchange for $10,000 a month. Nicolas allegedly told the informant he expected to get $8 million after the death of his parents — comprised of the $2 million in life insurance and the sale of his parents’ jewelry business and house.

Police have since arrested a third suspect, Johnny Roman Leon III, 21, in connection with Theodore’s death.

“Our investigation revealed that Mr. Leon was involved with Nicolas Shaughnessy in the planning and the execution of the incident that occurred March 2 of 2018 when Theodore Shaughnessy was murdered,” Sheriff Sally Hernandez said last month.

Leon faces a charge of criminal solicitation of capital murder and is being held on $3 million bond.

Nicolas and his wife each face one charge of soliciting to commit capital murder. Edison has bonded out, but Nicolas is being held on a $3 million bond.

KXAN reached out to all of the attorneys representing various clients in the case. All said they are not commenting at this time.

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