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Suspects in murder-for-hire plot had unusual relationship

Nineteen-year-olds Nicholas Shaughnessy and Jaclyn Edison are accused of hiring a hitman to murder Shaughnessy's parents for the life insurance money. (Photos courtesy: Austin Police Department)

There are some new details in the alleged murder-for-hire plot that led to the death of an Austin jewelry store owner in March.

Nineteen-year-olds Nicholas Shaughnessy and Jaclyn Edison are accused of hiring a hitman to murder Shaughnessy's parents for the life insurance money, but their relationship may have been unusual in other ways too.

A look at Austin High School's 2017 yearbook shows very little of Jaclyn Edison and Nicholas Shaughnessy -- no senior ads or extracurricular activities, or anything beyond a standard headshot listed in alphabetical order. One month after graduation, the pair married. Then, just eight months later -- in March of this year -- the pair is accused of hiring someone to kill Shaughnessy's father, Ted Shaughnessy, who owned Gallerie Jewelry in central Austin.

I talked one of Jaclyn Edison's family members in New Jersey on the phone -- she said the family was very surprised and upset and did not know very much about what Edison is accused of until today, or even that she and Shaughnessy had gotten married. Edison moved to Austin from New Jersey her junior year of high school to live with her father. A man by the same name as her father hung up when I reached out.

By March, Shaughnessy and Edison lived in College Station, where Edison attended Texas A&M. "I've talked to her twice before," said Caleb Miller, who lived across the street from the couple in College Station. "And he kind of, it was really weird, he wouldn't allow her to talk very much when I was around," Miller said.

According to the arrest affidavit, Edison began sobbing at the crime scene, when investigators told her she would be tested for gunshot residue. No word on the results of that test, but as of Thursday, she and Shaughnessy are only charged with criminal solicitation.

The Travis County Sheriff's Office says investigators are "following all leads in an effort to ID the shooter."

Edison and Shaughnessy moved back to Austin after the murder, where Shaughnessy moved back in with his mother, who survived the attack on March 2 and he now runs Gallerie Jewelry, according to social media -- but the couple won't be easily forgotten by neighbors in College Station. "Every time she would say something he would try to one up her or try to be the dominant person in speaking. So that may have been something, he may have been scared of her saying too much," Miller said.

Both Edison and Shaughnessy remained in the Travis County Jail Thursday, on a $1 million and a $3 million bond.

Court documents show a confidential informant told investigators that Nicolas Shaughnessy and Jaclyn Edison had a conversation in a car with the informant about killing Shaughnessy's parents for money.

"Probably in about half of all my (felony) drug cases I handle, there's a confidential informant involved," said criminal defense attorney Daniel Betts. "With a confidential informant you'd want to know more, what, if anything, the informant is getting out of the bargain, the reason they went to the police and whether or not they have a criminal case that they're interested in having a favorable outcome, come out of."

Because of fear of retaliation, sometimes in drug and gang cases a confidential informant's identity is never released, but because of the severity of the murder case Betts said things could change.

"If a judge made them make the decision on whether they would dismiss the case or disclose the identity, I think they'd choose to disclose the identity of the informant," said Betts.

CBS Austin's Jordan Bontke contributed to this report.

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