Nicolas Shaughnessy received a call from authorities in the wee hours of the morning March 2. His father had been shot to death in a home invasion; his mother survived the attack.
Shaughnessy said he drove three hours before dawn from his home in College Station to his father’s house in southwestern Travis County. A detective at the scene would note that when Shaughnessy arrived, he showed no emotion and seemed unconcerned about his mother.
Shaughnessy and his wife, Jaclyn Alexa Edison, now are accused of hiring a hitman to kill his parents. Both 19-year-olds are charged with solicitation to commit capital murder for their alleged roles in Theodore “Ted” Shaughnessy’s killing.
The day of the shooting at the Shaughnessys’ home in the 9900 block of Oliver Drive, Travis County deputies put out word that they were searching for a shooter in a home invasion who might have been wounded in the attack. Both Ted and his wife, Corey Garman Shaughnessy, were armed. She fired back.
But as the investigation pressed on, clues surfaced that pointed to an apparent murder-for-hire plot that might have been orchestrated by the young couple, authorities said.
The next day, Nicolas Shaughnessy asked a friend if he wanted to see pictures of the crime scene and joked about being “demoted” from being a person of interest because investigators returned his cellphone to him, the affidavit said.
Detectives searched Nicolas Shaughnessy and Edison’s College Station home and found evidence that Shaughnessy had asked several people if they would like to be paid for killing someone weeks and months before his parents were attacked, the affidavit said. In messages sent in February and found on a home computer, the couple appeared to discuss costs, the affidavit shows.
Just two weeks before the shooting, Shaughnessy asked a woman working at his apartment complex if she wanted to make some extra money doing illegal activities, including “anything from strippers to murders,” the woman told investigators. According to the affidavit, Shaughnessy offered her “$20,000 a head,” plus a $15,000 incentive.
Detectives did not find signs of a forced entry into the home. All the doors and windows were locked, except for one that had been opened in Nicolas Shaughnessy’s bedroom, according to the affidavit. They said the home’s security alarm system had been remotely deactivated from Shaughnessy’s College Station residence three times that morning after alarms had gone off.
“The only people with access to the alarm system were Ted, Corey and Nicolas,” the affidavit said.
Security videos during the attack were also deleted from the home alarm system, according to the report.
After the attack, Corey Shaughnessy told investigators that their dog’s barking woke her and her husband about 4 a.m. Ted grabbed his .45-caliber Glock handgun and went to investigate, the affidavit said.
Seconds later, she heard a barrage of gunshots close to the couple’s bedroom. She grabbed the .357-caliber handgun she kept at her bedside and got up, she told investigators.
Someone fired at her, Corey Shaughnessy said, and she shot back until she ran out of ammunition. She then hid in her closet and called 911 at 4:46 a.m.
When dispatchers asked Corey Shaughnessy to leave the closet and open the door for deputies, she found her husband lying unresponsive on the kitchen floor.
Ted was lying in a large pool of blood and bullet casings from two guns littered the kitchen, the affidavit said. Bullet holes perforated kitchen fixtures, walls and windows. One of the couple’s pet Rottweilers was shot dead in the bedroom.
On the opposite side of the house, in Nicolas Shaughnessy’s bedroom, a window was open. Authorities did not arrest anyone that day.
Ted Shaughnessy was pronounced dead at 5:14 a.m. The Travis County medical examiner said he died of multiple gunshot wounds.
When Edison arrived with her husband at the Shaughnessys’ home after the shooting, she started to cry when detectives told her she would be tested for gunshot residue.
She told investigators that her husband worked as a day trader and his business was doing well. He had a good relationship with his parents, she said.
But according to the affidavit, Nicolas Shaughnessy had told multiple people he would receive more than $1 million from his parents’ life insurance.
Detectives confirmed Shaughnessy would receive $2 million in the event of his parents’ death, the affidavit said.
While both Shaughnessy and Edison have been charged in connection with the case, authorities said they are still searching for the shooter.
Travis County sheriff’s office spokeswoman Kristen Dark said nothing has been ruled out in the search. “Our detectives are pursuing every lead they encounter as they work the case,” she said.
The affidavit points out that nine .40-caliber handgun casings were found near Ted Shaughnessy’s body, the affidavit says. During the search, detectives located an empty box for a .40-caliber handgun in a dresser drawer in the bedroom next to the open window. Corey Shaughnessy told investigators that bedroom belonged to Nicolas Shaughnessy, the affidavit says.
Additionally, detectives found five .380-caliber casings near Ted Shaughnessy’s body, the affidavit says. Investigators found a box of .380-caliber ammunition at Nicolas and Jaclyn’s College Station apartment, with six rounds missing from the box, the affidavit says.
“This ammunition matched the caliber and brand of the fired .380-caliber casings found in the area of Theodore’s body,” the document says.
Perry Minton and Rick Flores, Shaughnessy’s attorneys, issued a statement Wednesday saying they have been working with the Shaughnessy family since Ted’s death.
“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,” Minton and Flores said.
After Ted Shaughnessy was killed, his store, Gallerie Jewelers, was closed for about a month. Eventually, business neighbors said Nicolas Shaughnessy and Edison began visiting the store frequently, sometimes accompanied by Corey Shaughnessy.
At the end of April, Nicolas Shaughnessy visited 32Dental, a dentist’s office next door to Ted’s store in the 3500 block of Jefferson Road, and told the staff he would be taking over for his father at the store, said 32Dental office manager Sasha Sayenko. On Wednesday, a sign at the jewelry store said the business was temporarily closed.
“(Nicolas) was saying that ‘It’s been tough.’ But they’re going to be reopening, he’s going to be taking over and that they’re going to be getting a new puppy,” Sayenko said. “I think he was just trying to mingle, maybe the way Ted was.”
She said Nicolas Shaughnessy seemed chipper despite what had happened.
Michelle Acosta, a patient coordinator at 32Dental, said she knew Ted Shaughnessy for five years. He would wave when he passed by and occasionally stop into the dental office to see how everyone was doing, Acosta said. He was passionate about his job and would bring by stones before they were set into jewelry, she said.
Every now and then, Nicolas Shaughnessy would join his father at work and Acosta would see the pair walking and talking on the way into the store.
“It looked like a good relationship,” Acosta said.
Staff writer Ryan Autullo contributed to this report