Two days before Thanksgiving, Keith Caneiro was found dead on his lawn in Colts Neck, N.J., with a gunshot wound to the head. The remains of his wife and two young children were discovered inside their mansion, which had been set ablaze.
Now, nine days after the mysterious deaths that shocked the quaint, wealthy town of Colts Neck, Caneiro’s brother, Paul, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and aggravated arson.
Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced the charges Thursday, calling the quadruple homicide “one of the most brutal cases” he has seen in his career.
Gramiccioni said Paul Caneiro shot and killed his younger brother, then murdered his brother’s wife, Jennifer, and their children, Sophia, 8, and Jesse, 11, in their home. Before leaving, the prosecutor said, Caneiro started a fire in the mansion’s basement to destroy evidence and as "a ruse to make it appear that the overall family was somehow targeted.”
Prosecutors said they believe the motive was financial: Paul and Keith Caneiro were business partners at Square One, an Asbury Park technology firm that doubled as a pest-control company. The prosecutor’s office has launched a financial investigation.
Paul Caneiro, 51, has been jailed since Nov. 21, accused of burning his own Ocean Township house after returning from the fire that destroyed his brother’s home.
Colts Neck, one of New Jersey’s most affluent communities, has been home to celebrities such as Queen Latifah and members of Bon Jovi, along with an animal sanctuary operated by Jon Stewart and his wife.
Defense attorneys for Caneiro, Robert Honecker and Mitchell Ansell, said in a statement Thursday that their client maintains his innocence.
“Paul’s expectations are when this case is over he will be completely vindicated and the truth will come out,” the statement said.
Caneiro is due in court Friday morning. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.