Four months after Austin jeweler Ted Shaughnessy was shot to death inside his southwestern Travis County home, authorities have arrested a man they believe pulled the trigger in what they described as a murder-for-hire plot supposedly hatched by Shaughnessy’s son.
A Travis County sheriff’s office SWAT team, armed with an arrest warrant, traveled to College Station on Wednesday morning to take 21-year-old Johnny Roman Leon III into custody on a charge of criminal solicitation of capital murder, a first-degree felony. He was still being questioned in the afternoon by investigators in Brazos County.
If convicted, Leon faces five to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Detectives in May had arrested Shaughnessy’s son, Nicolas, and his wife, Jaclyn Edison, both 19, on the same charge, but Wednesday’s arrest filled in one of the biggest holes so far in the investigation.
“We do think this is the shooter,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Kristen Dark said. “There is the possibility that there was a second shooter.”
Sheriff Sally Hernandez said the investigation is still active, and detectives still have more puzzle pieces to fit before nailing down exactly how the killing happened and whether anyone else was involved in the March 2 early morning home invasion that left Ted Shaughnessy dead, along with one of his beloved Rottweilers.
New court paperwork filed Wednesday, however, alleged that at least two days before Gallerie Jewelers owner Ted Shaughnessy was killed, three men, including his son, were busy plotting his death.
Investigators said in an arrest affidavit that Leon and Nicolas Shaughnessy approached a man on Feb. 28 and offered him $10,000 to lend a hand in killing Nicolas’ father and his mother, Corey. According to a source for investigators, both Nicolas Shaughnessy and Leon had traveled to Austin to scope out the parents’ home on the same day, the affidavit said.
The source told investigators that Nicolas Shaughnessy wanted to kill his parents then but instead returned to College Station.
When the two men returned, the pair met with a third man, whom authorities have not yet named, and laid out a plan to drive to Austin around 1 a.m. or 2 a.m., be there for about 30 minutes and then drive straight back.
“At first, Nick and Johnny would not tell the source what they actually wanted him to do, but they eventually told him they needed two people to kill two people, by shooting them and possibly shooting some dogs, if needed,” an affidavit said.
Leon would use his pistol and have access to a gun located in a desk drawer inside the Shaughnessy home during the attack, court documents said.
The affidavit said Nicolas and Leon assured the third man that the Shaughnessy house was in a secluded area where no neighbors could hear gunshots. The third man would leave his phone at home during the trip to Austin to throw off investigators, court documents said.
About 4 a.m. on March 2, Corey and Ted Shaughnessy were awoken by their dogs barking. Ted Shaughnessy grabbed a gun and left the couple’s bedroom to check the situation, but was met with gunfire. Corey Shaughnessy told authorities she grabbed her .357 revolver and shot back at an unknown intruder who fired at her. She then hid in the closet and called 911.
Once it was safe to leave the closet, Corey Shaughnessy told authorities, she found Ted Shaughnessy lying in the kitchen in a pool of blood, court documents said.
Since Nicolas Shaughnessy’s arrest in May, his mother has defended him.
“These allegations are not consistent in any way with the young man we have come to know,” the Shaughnessy family’s attorneys, Perry Minton and Rick Flores, said at the time of his arrest.
“Nick has been living with his mother since this tragedy occurred,” the lawyers said. “We will review the evidence as it becomes available to us.”
In July, Corey Shaughnessy met with investigators and continued to stand by Nicolas, who remains in the Travis County Jail with bail set at $3 million.
Edison was briefly jailed before being released last month after making bail.
Law enforcement sources told the American-Statesman in June that Edison had been helping investigators answer questions surrounding Ted Shaughnessy’s death.