Grand jury indicts brother in Colts Neck family killings


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A Monmouth County grand jury has returned a 16-count indictment against the
brother of a Colts Neck man who was found dead along with his wife and two children just  days before Thanksgiving, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced on Feb. 25.

The lengthy indictment charges Paul J. Caneiro, 51, of Ocean Township, with four counts of first degree murder and two counts of first degree felony murder in connection with the slaying of his brother, Keith Caneiro, 50, his sister-in-law, Jennifer Caneiro, 45, his nephew, Jesse, 11, and his niece, Sophia, 8, on Nov. 20, 2018, at their home on Willow Brook Road in Colts Neck.

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In relation to events that occurred at Keith Caneiro’s home, at his own home in Ocean Township that same day, and in a business relationship with his brother, Paul Caneiro is also charged with two counts of second degree aggravated arson, one count of second degree possession of a weapon (firearm) for an unlawful purpose, one count of third degree possession of a weapon (knife) for an unlawful purpose, one count of second degree unlawful possession of a weapon (firearm), one count of fourth degree unlawful possession of a weapon (knife), one count of second degree theft, one count of second degree misapplication of entrusted property and two counts of third degree hindering apprehension of oneself, according to Gramiccioni.

Paul Caneiro is represented by attorneys Robert A. Honecker Jr. and Mitchell J. Ansell, of the firm Ansell Grimm & Aaron, Ocean Township.

In response to a request for comment following the prosecutor’s release of the indictment, Honecker and Ansell said, “Today (Feb. 26) we received a copy of the indictment regarding our client Paul Caneiro. We are in the process of reviewing the indictment with our client and discussing potential issues related to the indictment.

“Under the court rules, we now have access for the first time to all of the state’s evidence in this matter which they believe supports their theory of the case. We also have to review that evidence to identify any issues that may relate to the case. We will have additional comment at the appropriate time,” the attorneys said.

Affidavits of probable cause provided by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office provide the alleged details of the events of Nov. 20 and describe evidence that was collected in the case against Paul Caneiro.

Law enforcement authorities allege that Paul Caneiro left his Ocean Township home shortly after 2 a.m. Nov. 20 and drove to his brother’s home in Colts Neck. A call was received by the Monmouth County Communications Center shortly after 3:30 a.m. from an individual who reported hearing gunshots in the vicinity of Willow Brook Road, Colts Neck. A second individual was later located by detectives and that resident reported hearing gunshots shortly after 3 a.m., according to the affidavits.

Law enforcement authorities allege that Caneiro shot his brother, shot and stabbed his sister-in-law, stabbed his nephew and stabbed his niece, killing them all, at that time. They allege Caneiro set a fire in the basement of the Willow Brook Road home.

Law enforcement authorities allege that Caneiro returned to his home at about 4 a.m. and set fires in several locations while his wife and two adult daughters slept in the home.

Ocean Township police responded to the Caneiro home at about 5 p.m. to investigate a report of smoke in the home. All four residents were found in a car outside the home. Firefighters from several fire companies responded and suppressed the fires. No injuries were reported to any residents or emergency responders, according to the affidavits.

Shortly after 12:30 p.m. that same day, Colts Neck police officers were dispatched to Keith Caneiro’s home on Willow Brook Road to investigate a report of a fire at that location. Emergency responders found the home on fire, Keith Caneiro dead on the front lawn, Jesse dead on the kitchen floor, Sophia dead on the landing of the stairs between the first and second floors, and Jennifer dead on stairs leading from the basement to the first floor.

An investigation of the incidents in Colts Neck and Ocean Township determined that Keith Caneiro and Paul Caneiro owned two businesses together, Square One Consulting and EcoStar Pest Management, both based in the same office space in Asbury Park.

Among other details, the investigation determined that “Keith told (an individual) he was frustrated with Paul and the amount of money Paul spent from their business accounts.”

Regarding evidence collected during the investigation, the affidavits state that a plastic container was found in the basement of Paul Caneiro’s home on Nov. 23. The plastic container contained clothing, including a pair of jeans and a latex glove, with red stains consistent with blood.

Law enforcement authorities said laboratory testing indicated Sophia’s DNA (blood) “was found in three separate areas on the aforementioned pair of jeans, and her blood was also found on a portion of the aforementioned latex glove. Additionally, Sophia’s DNA matched a swab taken from a knife recovered at the victim’s residence in Colts Neck.”

The affidavits state that “during the examination of the clothes by the staff at the New Jersey State Police Forensic Laboratory, a 9mm unspent projectile was located in the fold of the clothing located in (the basement of Paul Caneiro’s home). The casing was identified as a ‘GFL 10 9X19.’ This ammunition was consistent with (ammunition) located inside the home of Paul Caneiro … as well as the spent projectile casings located at Willow Brook Road, near the body of Keith Caneiro.”

The joint investigation by the Monmouth County 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 Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and the Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s Office, according to Gramiccioni.

Paul Caneiro remains detained pending trial in the Monmouth County jail, Freehold Township.

If convicted of murder, Caneiro faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment without
parole on each count. Felony murder carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, subject to the provisions of the No Early Release Act (NERA). Aggravated arson carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison, also subject to the provisions of NERA.

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