New Jersey man charged with killing brother and his family pleads not guilty

A New Jersey man charged with killing his brother, his brother's family and then setting two fires to try and cover up the crimes pleaded not guilty during his first court appearance Friday.

Paul Caneiro, 51, arrived to a Monmouth County courtroom wearing a green jumpsuit with his hands cuffed in the front.

Caneiro, who has been in jail since last week, was "ordered to be detained in jail until trial on all charges," the prosecutor's office said in a tweet.

He is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his brother, Keith Caneiro, his brother's wife, Jennifer Caneiro, and their two children Jesse and Sophia, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office. The family was found dead at their burning Colts Neck, New Jersey mansion on Nov. 20.

Keith Caneiro, 50, had been shot multiple times and was found outside his home by authorities responding to a call about a house fire. Inside the residence, officials discovered the bodies of Jennifer Caneiro, 45, Jesse, 11, and Sophia, 8.

Paul Caneiro was arrested in connection with a fire in Ocean Township, New Jersey, on Nov. 21, 2018.

According to a criminal complaint, Jennifer had been shot and stabbed. The children were both repeatedly stabbed. Investigators said last week that the family was killed prior to the fire being set in their home.

Lawyers for Paul Caneiro denied his involvement "with these horrific crimes."

"Paul's family means more to him than anything else in this world," attorneys Robert Honecker and Mitchell Ansell said in a statement.

"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."

Caneiro is also charged with second-degree possession of a firearm for unlawful purpose, third-degree possession of a knife for an unlawful purpose and one count of second-degree aggravated arson, according to a criminal complaint.

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Karina Vetrano was murdered while jogging through Spring Creek Park near her Howard Beach home in 2016. (Photo: GoFundMe)
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He was jailed on Nov. 21 for allegedly setting his own Ocean Township home on fire while his wife and two daughters were still inside. There were no injuries reported in that fire, officials said.

Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said Thursday at a news conference that prosecutors believe the motive for the murders was financial. Paul Caneiro and Keith owned two businesses together - a tech company and pest control business - in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

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