Man accused of arson, killing brother’s family in Colts Neck pleads not guilty

FREEHOLD, N.J. — Paul Caneiro, 51, of Ocean Township pleaded not guilty to murdering his brother, Keith Caneiro, and Keith’s wife and children, before allegedly setting the family’s house on fire to cover it up. Prosecutors believe Caneiro later set his own house on fire to create the illusion that he is also a victim in all of this.

Caneiro appeared in Monmouth County Superior Court today in a green jail jumpsuit, with shackles on his wrists and ankles. His attorneys agreed to keep Caneiro behind bars until trial, waiving his right to a detention hearing.

“It was our view that it was best to move on to what the next challenge is and that is to defend Mr. Caneiro in the court of law,” said defense attorney Robert A. Honecker Jr.

Caneiro maintains his innocence and anticipates he will be vindicated at trial. His family was not in the courtroom today.

Outside, Caneiro’s attorneys would not speculate on who the true killer could be, if not Caneiro, and they vowed to fight all charges.

“Paul Canerio loved his brother,” said defense attorney Mitchell Ansell. “Loved his sister-in-law like a sister, loved those children. And would never do anything to harm them.”

Meanwhile, state prosecutors intend to prove that Caneiro’s quadruple murder of his brother’s family was motivated by money.

“We believe that the defendant’s motive was financial in nature, stemming from his and the victim’s joint business ventures that they owned and operated out of Asbury Park,” said Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni, when he announced the murder charges yesterday.

The Caneiro brothers owned a tech company and a pest control business. Investigators will be looking into the financials of both.

Paul Caneiro’s attorneys stated today that finances were not a factor.

Keith Caneiro’s body was discovered on Nov. 20 outside his home with multiple gunshot wounds. Jennifer suffered gunshot and knife wounds, while investigators say Jesse, 11, and Sophia, 8, were apparently both stabbed to death.

A fire at the family’s mansion, at 15 Willowbrook Rd. in Colts Neck, was then set in the basement using gasoline.

Investigators believe Canerio took some pieces of evidence from the scene, before putting them in his own home and lighting his Ocean Township on fire.

Caneiro’s next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 30.