Colts Neck suspect pleads not guilty in murders of brother and his family

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Anthony Johnson reports on the New Jersey man charged with killing his brother's family.

A New Jersey man charged with killing his brother and the brother's wife and two children made his first court appearance Friday morning.

A stone-faced Paul Caneiro appeared in Monmouth County Superior court Friday morning and pleaded not guilty to four counts of murder, two counts of aggravated arson and weapons charges.

Authorities say the 51-year-old Caneiro brutally murdered 50-year-old Keith Caneiro, his 45-year-old wife Jennifer, and their two children, 11-year-old Jesse and 8-year-old Sophia before setting fire to his brother's home and his own home.

He had no reaction as the prosecutor read the charges out to him. He kept his head down and remained handcuffed in a forest-green jumpsuit.

He waived his right to contest the Monmouth County prosecutor's motion to detain him until trial, meaning he will remain behind bars until his next court date, likely in January.

Paul Caneiro photo from Ocean Township police


On Thursday, Monmouth County District Attorney Christopher Gramiccioni said the fires were actually an elaborate cover-up in the vicious, financially-motivated murders.

TIMELINE: Colts Neck family murders

Graminccioni said Keith Caneiro was fatally shot in front of his Colts Neck home in the early morning hours of November 20, and that Paul Caneiro proceeded to go inside the home, where he stabbed and shot Jennifer before repeatedly stabbing the two children.

"This one is the most brutal case I've seen in my experience here," Gramiccioni said.

The suspect then allegedly set fire to the home at 15 Willow Brook Road in an effort to conceal and disguise his crimes.

Prosecutors believe Paul Caneiro then returned to his Ocean Township home 10 miles away around 5 a.m. with evidence from the Colts Neck crime and allegedly set fire to his Tilton Drive home with wife, Susan, and daughters, Marissa and Katelyn, inside. This was allegedly done in order to destroy the evidence and create the illusion that the Caneiro family was targeted.

Paul Caneiro was previously charged with arson for the Ocean Township incident last week. His family was not hurt in the fire, and authorities say there was no evidence he intended to kill his own family.

Investigators believe that the suspect's motive was financial in nature, stemming from a family business. Paul and Keith owned and operated two businesses in Asbury Park -- a computer systems company called Square One and a pest control business. Prosecutors have launched a financial investigation into those businesses.

He faces the possibility of multiple life sentences if convicted of the murder charges.

Caneiro's attorney, Robert Honecker, had previously said Caneiro was innocent and "devastated by the news of his brother and his family's deaths" and released the following statement:

From the moment Paul Caneiro was arrested, he has asserted his innocence in that he had absolutely nothing to do with these horrific crimes. Paul continues to maintain his innocence today.

Paul's family means more to him than anything else in this world. Paul's brother Keith and his family similarly were everything to Paul. He worked with his brother Keith for 31 years and he loved his sister-in-law as if she was his sister. Paul Caneiro always participated in the lives of Jesse and Sophia from watching them at their various events at school and spending time with them frequently. Paul Caneiro just couldn't say no to his family.

There is absolutely no reason in the world for Paul Caneiro to have committed the crimes he is alleged to have committed. He would never hurt any member of his family. The process today can begin for a search for the truth and who committed these horrendous acts.

Paul Caneiro does not intend to try this case in the media and we respect the decision of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's office to do the same.

Paul Caneiro is an innocent man who stands wrongfully accused by the State of New Jersey. Paul's expectations are when this case is over he will be completely vindicated and the truth will come out."


(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)

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