Man accused of killing his brother’s family in Colts Neck agrees to remain in jail

Paul Caneiro appeared in an Ocean County courtroom Friday for the first time since his arrest. Watch video

During his first court appearance Friday, an Ocean Township man charged with killing his younger brother and his brother’s family agreed to remain jailed until trial.

Paul Caneiro mugshotPaul Caneiro. (Police photo)

Paul Caneiro, 51, is facing four counts of first-degree murder, aggravated arson and weapons offenses in connection with the Nov. 21 pre-dawn slaying of Keith Caneiro, 50, Keith’s wife, Jennifer, 45, and their two young children, 8-year-old Sophia and 11-year-old Jesse at their million-dollar Colts Neck mansion.

Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni told reporters at a press conference Thursday that the killings were related to the businesses he and his brother ran, which NJ Advance Media learned were struggling to stay afloat.

At his first hearing Friday, Caneiro waived his right to contest the prosecutor’s motion to detain him until his trial. He is being held in Monmouth County jail in Freehold.

The prosecutor’s office said that Paul Caneiro shot his brother multiple times outside Keith Caneiro’s mansion, and then shot and stabbed Jennifer before stabbing the two children to death. He also lit a fire in the basement of their Willow Brook Road home, authorities said.

Paul Caneiro then went back to his Ocean Township house and set it on fire, hoping to make it look like the entire Caneiro family had been targeted, Gramiccioni said. His wife and children were home at the time, but weren’t injured.

Caneirofamily.jpgKeith Caneiro, 50, Keith’s wife, Jennifer, 45, and their two young children, 8-year-old Sophia and 11-year-old Jesse were all killed on Nov. 20, and their home set on fire. (Facebook) 

Paul Caneiro was arrested the day after and charged with one count of aggravated arson for lighting his house on fire, authorities announced.

The additional murder charges were filed Thursday morning and explained by Gramiccioni at a packed press conference later in the day.

He told reporters the motive likely stems from the two businesses the brothers ran together in Asbury Park — Square One, a technology firm, and a pest control business, EcoStar Pest Management.  

A law enforcement source told NJ Advance Media that the tech company was struggling financially, and a former classmate of Keith Caneiro’s from Columbia University said Caneiro was seeking new job opportunities and was looking to walk away from Square One. 

Paul Caneiro’s attorneys, Robert A. Honecker Jr. and Michell J. Ansell have said their client “had absolutely nothing to do with these horrific crimes.”

“There is absolutely no reason in the world for Paul Caneiro to have committed the crimes he is alleged to have committed,” the statement said.

Alex Napoliello may be reached at anapoliello@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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