In March 2018, Ted Shaughnessy and his wife Corey were asleep when their home was invaded by two intruders. Gunshots were exchanged during the incident, resulting in Ted’s death but Corey survived. The news rapidly circulated in the community, leading many to initially believe it was a botched burglary due to Ted’s affluent status. However, the police uncovered fresh leads, and the details of these investigative breakthroughs, as well as the eventual conviction of the perpetrator for Ted’s murder, are explored in the ‘Dateline: Ghosts Can’t Talk’ episode.
How Did Ted Shaughnessy Die?
Ted Shaughnessy, an AGS Registered Jeweler, and his wife Corey Shaughnessy, a Certified Gemologist Appraiser, shared a prosperous life with their son Nicolas. Ted, who established Gallerie Jewelers in Austin, Texas, in 1995, achieved success, earning the family a reputable name in their community. The store, a member of the American Gem Society, not only reflected their expertise but also contributed to their standing within the local business landscape. Their commitment to the jewelry industry and their expertise in gemology added to the thriving legacy of Gallerie Jewelers.
In the early hours of March 2, 2018, around 4 a.m., Corey and Ted were awakened by the noise of an intruder entering their apartment, prompting their dogs to bark. Ted, keeping a handgun within easy reach, grabbed it and went to investigate. Within a minute, Corey heard gunshots, prompting her to arm herself with another handgun in the room. An exchange of gunfire occurred when the intruder reached their room, resulting in injuries to the suspect. As Corey’s ammunition ran out, she sought refuge in a closet and called 911. Upon police arrival, the intruders had fled, and 55-year-old Ted was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:14 a.m.
Who Killed Ted Shaughnessy?
The police initiated their investigation and quickly ruled out a burglary, noting the absence of forced entry and the lack of any stolen valuables. Shifting their focus to a homicide inquiry, they discovered that all doors in the house were undisturbed, except for the entrance to Nicolas Shaughnessy’s room. It was revealed that Nicolas was married to Jaclyn Alexa Edison at the time, and the couple resided in College Station.
The police delved into Nicolas’s financial history and uncovered that he had been grappling with financial difficulties for an extended period leading up to the murder. A significant revelation was that Nicolas had borrowed $30,000 from his mother for a business venture, and she had recently messaged him, reminding him to repay the loan. Additionally, there was an outstanding $2,600 loan from a neighbor that Nicolas had yet to return. These financial stressors presented a potential motive for the crime. However, the investigation took a more critical turn when it was discovered that Nicolas was the sole beneficiary of a $2 million insurance payout. This detail intensified the scrutiny of Nicolas, making him the prime suspect in the eyes of the police.
An informant told the police, revealing that Nicolas had orchestrated a plot to have his father killed. Nicolas had allegedly informed a hired hitman that he stood to gain $8 million from his father’s life insurance policy if the murder was successfully carried out, and he promised the hitman a payment of $10,000. Further investigation unveiled that on February 28, Nicolas had traveled to Austin with the hitman, intending to participate in the murder himself, but had returned without executing the plan. Subsequent interviews with individuals in Capital Station revealed that Nicolas had been soliciting various people to carry out the murder of his parents.
With an arrest warrant for Nicolas’s residence, the police discovered a firearm that matched the shell casings found at the crime scene, providing a crucial link to the bullets used to kill Ted. Additionally, they uncovered a torn-up piece of paper, which, when reconstructed, revealed a diagram of the murder scene. Further incriminating evidence was found in Nicolas’s online activity. The police confirmed through digital records that Nicolas had indeed traveled to Austin on February 28. On the morning of the murder, he logged in to check the security camera of his parent’s house using a different IP address before being officially informed by the police. These findings strengthened the case against Nicolas, establishing a compelling connection between him and the crime.
Upon examining text messages between Nicolas and his wife, it became evident that the couple had been planning the murders for an extended period. Consequently, both were arrested on May 29 on charges of conspiracy to commit murder. In a subsequent interview, Nicolas admitted that he and his wife aspired to emulate not only his parents’ financial success but also their social standing. Their attempts to achieve this on their own proved unsuccessful, leading them to enlist the help of 21-year-old Johnny Leon, who brought Arieon Smith into the plan. Police records indicated that Smith had made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Nicolas on the morning of the murder
In August 2018, 19-year-old Nicolas was indicted on charges of capital murder, while Edison posted bail to secure her release on charges of solicitation of murder. Leon, facing charges of capital murder, was also arrested. Smith, who had evaded capture initially, was eventually apprehended and charged with capital murder in December 2018. In an April 2021 hearing, both Nicolas and Smith pleaded guilty, resulting in each being sentenced to 35 years in prison. Nicolas would be eligible for parole after serving 20 years of his sentence.