AUSTIN, Texas - Nicolas Shaughnessy will spend decades in prison for hiring a hit man to kill his parents, but the plot by Nicolas and his then-wife didn’t go as planned.
His father, Austin Gallerie Jewelers owner, Ted Shaughnessy, died. His mother survived.
In an exclusive interview, Nicolas sat down with CrimeWatch reporter Meredith Aldis to explain why and how the crime happened.
Nicolas said he wanted to talk after being sentenced to take accountability for his role in this plot, call out his ex-wife who he said didn’t take any responsibility, and repair his relationship with his mother.
"I'm not going to sit here and say that I didn't do this. I'm not going to play a victim card. I most certainly played my role and I wholeheartedly regret it," Nicolas Shaughnessy said.
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Nicolas Shaughnessy admitted he and his then-wife, Jaclyn Edison, hired a hitman to kill his parents, Corey and Ted Shaughnessy. The Shaughnessys owned Gallerie Jewelers in Central Austin and were well known in the community, something Nicolas said he and Jaclyn wanted.
"Especially with the status that my parents held in Austin like that, you know, it was something that we both had seen and those we both like we wanted it," Shaughnessy said.
"You wanted the life of your parents?" Aldis asked.
"Not financial. I don't, that, that's one thing I don't want to get hung up on, you know, is the financial aspect was a part of it, but it was never a necessity. You know, there were always, that wasn't something that had to happen like that. The store, the business, the, the status," Shaughnessy replied.
Nicolas was an only child and the sole beneficiary of his parent’s $2 million life insurance policy.
"It started off very passively jokingly about what if you know, this could be ours, and then it became an unfortunate, like serious conversation," Shaughnessy said.
Nicolas said the original plan was to kill his parents themselves.
"Jackie and I had gone to Austin, originally to attempt ourselves, but ultimately it couldn't, like I was too cowardly, you know, I'm not that, I couldn't do that myself and so it was, the later trips were used to identify just a routine, you know, a pattern of what was going on when we weren't in Austin," Shaughnessy said.
That’s where 21-year-old Johnny Leon came in, someone who could do it for them.
"We had met him through College Station, out there, and it never, there was never a serious tone to it, you know, it was always a very lax conversation," Shaughnessy said.
Shaughnessy said they gave Leon $1,000 and the conversations continued.
"Why didn’t you call it off?" Aldis asked.
"Too much of a coward." Shaughnessy replied.
"You wanted it to go through, you wanted it to happen?" Aldis asked.
"It’s leading me up for a trap right there because on one hand, I say no, but then it did," Shaughnessy replied.
The plan transpired on March 2, 2018.
"Jackie and I didn't know that it was gonna happen that night. Like after we did Johnny the funds, he there was no like time frame, you know, there was no, it's going to happen the next day, it's going to happen two days from now. and so that when I got that call from my neighbor, the first call, that's what woke me up on the morning of and immediately, immediately just, I knew something had happened," Shaughnessy said.
Nicolas and Jaclyn were in College Station at the time.
"We immediately look at the cameras in my parents' house and that's when we, we're just like sitting there watching, like, not understanding what's going on or what exactly happened," Shaughnessy said.
He said his mother then called.
"She said dad's dead, he's been shot," Shaughnessy said. "She was hysterical, like it’s one of those things that you never leave your head. You know, I always remember that phone call and immediately after that, we spoke to whoever was on scene there and told us just to come to Austin."
"What did you think knowing you were part of that when she’s calling you and she’s hysterical?" Aldis asked.
"It was, it was speechless, I don’t, that’s not the right word but it was just very quiet, very in shock, nothing at that point was like, I didn’t know exactly what had happened to like the details of anything and it just was, oh crap, like what, what? Shaughnessy replied.
Nicolas’ mother, Corey, told police she and her husband, Ted, were in their bedroom when they heard someone enter their home in the middle of the night. Ted was shot dead in a hallway as he went to confront the intruder with a gun. Corey returned fire until she ran out of ammunition and went into a closet to call 911. Detectives said they didn’t find any signs of forced entry to the home. All the doors and windows were locked, except for the one that had been opened in Nicolas’ bedroom. They also said Nicolas’ cellphone was used to turn off the security system on the morning of the attack.
"If you were going to do it yourself, how were you going to do it?" Aldis asked.
"It was the same way, I don’t know, it was the same way," Shaughnessy relied.
"A gun?" Aldis asked.
Shaughnessy nodded yes.
Nicolas and Jaclyn then lived with Corey, someone they once wanted dead, for three months.
"It was hell like knowing this but not saying anything, like there would be many, many sleepless nights just of inner turmoil," Shaughnessy said.
Nicolas was surrounded by the aftermath of their plan, including his father’s ashes.
"I had many conversations, I guess with his ashes. But, yeah, she kept it in the library and that make you feel horrible. Like I, is not something that I was ultimately proud of and it's not something that I wanted to continue living the life, you know," Shaughnessy said.
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On May 29, investigators arrested and charged Nicolas and Jaclyn with conspiracy to commit murder. Nicolas was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Jaclyn was handed down a sentence of 10 years probation.
"It's something that I can never undo and I will live with every day for the rest of my life. My ex, she got a plea deal of the century like two days in county every for 10 years. Like, you know, what, what, what, what do they do that? So, you know, part of this is, part of this is to take accountability and the other part is to show my mother that what I did is not who I am. The public is going to hate me regardless. I can't change the past and my actions are or something, I'm ashamed of the spotlight for. This is embarrassing. It's not something that I'm proud of being here at the moment," Shaughnessy said.
While in prison, Nicolas said he’s working on his associate degree and continues to write his mother.
"Long term, I want to repair a relationship with my mother. Short term, find anything that will produce income legally," Shaughnessy said.
Nicolas told Aldis he has questions he’d like to ask his ex-wife, Jaclyn about some of the allegations she’s made against him. He said she claimed she was abused and a victim herself.