‘Dateline: Ghosts Can’t Talk’ delves into the headline-making murder of Ted Shaughnessy, unraveling the complex investigation that ensued as law enforcement sought to identify the perpetrators. The shocking revelation emerged that Ted’s teenage son, Nicolas Shaughnessy, and his wife, Jaclyn Edison, were behind the murder, driven by financial greed to claim the $2 million insurance payout. The couple had hired hitmen, later identified as Johnny Roman Leon and Arieon Smith, to carry out the heinous act.
Who Are Johnny Leon and Arieon Smith?
Johnny Roman Leon and Arieon Smith, residing in College Station, crossed paths with Nicolas Shaughnessy under circumstances that remain unclear. Nicolas initially approached Leon with a seemingly innocent request to assist a friend in moving houses. However, upon Nicolas’s arrival, he disclosed a much different motive—expressing the need for assistance in orchestrating the murder of his parents. Allegedly, Nicolas informed Leon about a promised $6 million payment in the event of his father’s demise, offering him $10,000 for each murder, targeting both his father and mother in the plot.
Leon and Nicolas initially devised plans to reach the Austin residence of Nicolas’s parents, Ted and Corey Shaughnessy. However, Nicolas had a change of heart about proceeding with the plan, leading them both to abort the mission. Subsequently, Nicolas encountered Arieon Oneal Smith, a friend of Leon, at a club. Nicolas repeated his macabre request, seeking assistance in the murder of his parents. This time, Leon offered Smith $5000 for each murder and Smith agreed.
On March 2, 2018, Leon and Smith infiltrated the Shaughnessy residence in Austin by entering through an open window in Nicolas’s room. Unfortunately, their presence was detected by Ted and Corey, who heard them. Ted emerged from the room armed with a handgun, but before he could react, Leon and Smith fired, resulting in his tragic death. As they approached Corey’s room, she retaliated with her handgun, engaging in gunfire. Corey sought refuge in her closet after exhausting her ammunition, prompting her to call 911. It was at this juncture that Leon and Smith swiftly fled the scene.
The intentions of Ted and his wife were brought to the attention of the police a few months after the murder, and information about the hired hitmen had also surfaced. In July 2018, Leon was arrested and charged with capital murder. Upon examining Leon’s phone records, it became clear that he had made multiple attempts to contact Nicolas on the morning of the murder, but his calls remained unanswered or unreturned. In the subsequent days, he sent texts to Nicolas inquiring about the agreed-upon payment for his work.
Smith was apprehended by the police in December 2018, and initially, he vehemently denied any involvement in the murder of Ted Shaughnessy. He asserted that he did not know Nicolas or Leon. However, when presented with evidence from the tracking of his phone, Smith altered his story. He admitted that Nicolas had contacted him in a club, leading him to go to Austin. Smith claimed to have stayed at a hotel with a friend and insisted that Leon proceeded with the murder, even suggesting that Leon wore his shirt. Despite his attempt to distance himself, Smith’s DNA was discovered at the crime scene. Subsequently, he was arrested and charged with capital murder.
Johnny Leon and Arieon Smith are Both in Prison Today
In a joint hearing for Nicolas Shaughnessy and Arieon Smith, both individuals pleaded guilty to the murder charges. Smith received a sentence of 35 years in prison. Currently 26 years old, he is serving his sentence at the LeBlanc Unit in Texas and will be eligible for parole in 2036. A week after their plea deals, Johnny Leon also agreed, receiving a sentence of 35 years in prison. At the age of 27, Leon is currently serving his sentence at the Barry B. Telford Unit in Texas and will also be eligible for parole in 2036.
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