Mom, dad, kids slaughtered. Uncle did it all for money, cops say
FREEHOLD — A Monmouth County grand jury has returned a 16-count indictment against Paul Caneiro alleging the murder of his brother, his brother's wife and the couple's two children just before Thanksgiving.
That and an affidavit unsealed Monday shed light on the alleged financial motives behind the deaths -- describing slain brother Keith Caneiro as suspicious of Paul Caneirio while money flowed mysteriously out of their technology company.
Keith and Jennifer Caneiro, their 8-year-old daughter Sophia, and 11-year-old son Jesse were all found dead at their Colts Neck mansion on Nov. 20 after a multi-alarm fire broke out. Keith Caneiro's body was found shot outside the home on Willow Brook Road; his family was found inside.
Paul Caneiro also used gasoline to set his own Ocean Township home on fire as his wife and children slept inside, according to authorities. Paul Caneiro's immediate family survive that blaze, which authorities say was a diversion from the overall crime.
According to the affidavit , Paul Caneiro had a large number of legally registered weapons stored in a safe in his basement, including a Fiocchi 9 mm found on his brother's front lawn.
Although the Colts Neck fire was reported hours after the Ocean Township fire, investigators believe Caneiro first killed his relatives and set the fire in Colts Neck before returning to his home about 5 a.m. Prosecutors say the fire at Caneiro's own house was both a "ruse" and in an effort to destroy evidence that he had taken from the Colts Neck home.
Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said Caneiro repeatedly shot his brother outside his home. Inside, he shot and stabbed his sister-in-law and stabbed his niece and nephew, investigators say.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says the Colts Neck fire was set in the basement. Gramiccioni said the fire smoldered for hours and later erupted into an inferno when somebody later went into the home: The opening of a door provided oxygen that fanned the flames.
The indictment doubles the number of charges against Paul Caniero, which now include:
- Four counts of first-degree murder
- Two counts of first-degree felony murder
- 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
- Two counts of third-degree hindering apprehension of oneself
Gramiccioni earlier said Paul Caneiro, who ran a computer security firm and a pest management company with his slain brother, was motivated financially but at the time declined to elaborate.
According to the affidavit, an office manager said that the two brothers been arguing for the past year over money. Keith Caneiro discovered that money was missing from the business and he stopped payment to his brother's wife until it could be located, the affidavit says. Keith was also frustrated with the amount of the business' money that Paul spent.
The indictment indicates that Paul Caneiro was entrusted $78,180 in cash that was "purposely or knowingly applying or disposing of property that was entrusted to them" in an unlawful fashion."
Paul Caneiro has pleaded not guilty.
His attorneys have said their client loved his family, had no reason to harm them and had been "wrongly accused."
Paul Caneiro's next court appearance is scheduled for March 18.
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