HomeObituariesBrother charged with committing four murders at Colts Neck home

Brother charged with committing four murders at Colts Neck home

Kelly Giuliano, Staff Writer
Prior to igniting a fire at his brother’s Colts Neck home, Paul J. Caneiro murdered his brother, his sister-in-law and their two young children in what authorities are alleging stemmed from a financial motive, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said during a press conference in Freehold on Nov. 29.
Paul J. Caneiro has been charged with killing his brother’s family prior to setting fire to their Colts Neck home on Nov. 20. Gramiccioni said Caneiro was served with the murder charges on the morning of Nov. 29.
Gramiccioni said Caneiro, 51, of Ocean Township, has been charged with four counts of first degree murder, one count of second degree aggravated arson, second degree possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose and third degree possession of a knife for an unlawful purpose.
“By filing these charges, the state alleges the defendant murdered his brother, Keith Caneiro, 50, and Keith’s entire family, his two children, Sophia, 8, and Jesse, 11, and his wife, Jennifer, 45, … Specifically, we allege the defendant repeatedly shot and killed his brother … and then moved to murder the rest of the family inside the home,” Gramiccioni said.
After allegedly setting fire to Keith and Jennifer’s home on Willow Brook Road, Colts Neck, Paul Caneiro returned to Ocean Township and allegedly set fire to his home at about 5 a.m. “in an effort to conceal and disguise his earlier committed crimes,” Gramiccioni told a roomful of media representatives at the prosecutor’s office.
The cause of the two fires, Gramiccioni said, was arson. The fire at the Colts Neck residence originated in the basement and the fire at Paul Caneiro’s home began at exterior locations on either end of the home, he said.
Gramiccioni alleged that Paul Caneiro not only set fire to his own home to eliminate evidence he brought back from the Colts Neck residence, but also to to make the fires appear as if the entire Caneiro family had been targeted for some reason.
Gramiccioni said a joint investigation conducted by the prosecutor’s office, and the Colts Neck and Ocean Township police departments, has expanded to include the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Computer Forensic Laboratory, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and the Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s Office.
The investigation has revealed Paul Caneiro’s alleged motives for the crimes were financial in nature and stem from his joint business ventures with his brother, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Gramiccioni said Keith Caneiro was shot multiple times outside his home, that his wife was shot and stabbed inside the home, and that the couple’s two children were stabbed to death inside the home in the early morning hours of Nov. 20.
“It is the state’s position and allegation that they were the victims of homicidal violence as indicated by the charges filed today,” Gramiccioni said.
Gramiccioni was asked how Paul Caneiro could have justified killing Jennifer, Sophia and Jesse if the financial dispute was between him and his brother.
“I have to defer to the evidence that is going to be presented at trial if this case gets indicted by a grand jury,” he said, adding that he could not “read what is in the defendant’s head.”
Asked how authorities could allege Paul Caneiro’s motives were financial in nature, Grammicioni said, “we recovered a great deal of evidence” after the fires were extinguished.
“We are confident in our proof or else we wouldn’t have charged this case as we did,” he said.
Gramiccioni said he could not comment on whether a video feed was recovered that provided evidence for investigators.
“Bringing together a case like this takes a true team effort,” he said, commending the law enforcement personnel who stood alongside him during the press conference on Nov. 29.
At the time he was charged with killing his brother and his brother’s family, Paul Caneiro was being held at the Monmouth County jail, Freehold Township, on an aggravated arson charge that had been filed against him for allegedly setting his own house on fire Nov. 20. That charged was lodged within days of the murders in Colts Neck.
On Nov. 29, Caneiro was charged with the four counts of murder.
On Nov. 30, Caneiro made his first appearance at a detention hearing on the initial arson charge before state Superior Court Judge James J. McGann, sitting in Freehold. As a result of that proceeding, it was determined that Caneiro will remain in jail prior to a trial on all of the charges, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Following the detention hearing, Paul Caneiro’s defense attorney, Robert A. Honecker Jr., made a statement on behalf of his client to reporters outside the courtroom.
“Mr. Caneiro maintains his innocence of the charges,” Honecker said. “He has indicated he would never engage in conduct which can cause harm to his brother or his brother’s family. He intends to challenge the evidence that has been gathered by the prosecutor’s office in this case … In his view, he believes that when the case is finally resolved, he will be vindicated.”
On Dec. 2, a memorial gathering was held at the Holmdel Funeral Home, Holmdel, for the Caneiro family.
According to obituaries posted online by the funeral home, Keith Caneiro was the CEO of Square One, Asbury Park; Jennifer Caneiro was an active member of the Conover Road School PTO; Jesse was a fifth grade student at the shool; and Sophia was a third grade student at the school.
Anyone with information about the Colts Neck murders and arson is asked to call Detective Patrick Petruzziello of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 1-800-533-7443 or Colts Neck Detective Richard Zarrillo at 732-780-7323.
If convicted of murder, Paul Caneiro faces a maximum sentence of life in prison on each count. If convicted of aggravated arson, he faces a sentence of five to 10 years in prison, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Speaking on behalf of the family and friends of the Caneiro family, as well as members of the Colts Neck community, Gramiccioni said, “It is not lost upon us how troubling and confusing this incident has been to you and how unusual these circumstances are as alleged. … In this case we started strong thanks to this team effort, and I want those victims, friends and community members to know we are going to finish this case strong, too.”

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