New Jersey man allegedly killed brother's family and burned down their mansion over missing money

/ CBS/AP

Brother charged in N.J. mansion fire murders

Freehold, N.J. — Suspicious of his brother over missing money from two companies they owned at the New Jersey shore, Keith Caneiro emailed two business associates last fall, saying he was going to cut off further payments to his brother, Paul.

The next day, Keith Caneiro, his wife and their two young children were found dead in their burning mansion in New Jersey horse country. Paul Caneiro was arrested on arson and other charges.

On Monday, authorities unsealed court documents charging Paul Caneiro with murdering his brother, sister-in-law, a niece and nephew, detailing evidence recovered tying him to the killings including clothing and a knife both smeared with blood.

An indictment charges Paul Caneiro, 51, with murder, felony murder, aggravated arson and a weapons offense. He also faces counts of theft, misapplication of entrusted property and hindering his own apprehension.

The charges stem from the deaths of Keith Caneiro, 50; his wife, Jennifer, 45; and their two young children. Their bodies were found after a fire broke out at their Colts Neck home Nov. 20.

In this Nov. 30, 2018, file photo, Paul Caneiro appears in court. Patti Sapone/NJ Advance Media via AP

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." They said they plan to release a statement later Monday regarding the indictment.

An affidavit filed by law enforcement officers in support of the criminal charges shows tensions brewing between the two brothers, who jointly owned a pair of businesses in Asbury Park.

The night before he was killed, Keith Caneiro sent an email "to two business associates indicating that there was money missing from the business and that he, (Keith), would be discontinuing payment" to Paul's wife until the money was found, according to the affidavit. An office manager for the businesses, who was not named in court documents, told investigators that because Paul Caniero was disabled from a car accident, his salary was being paid to his wife.

"The office manager reported that in the past year, Keith has told her to stop payment to defendant's wife because of arguments with Paul over money," the affidavit read.

Keith Caneiro was 90 percent owner of Squareone Inc. a technology firm, with his brother owning the remaining 10 percent. The brothers were equal owners of a second business, EcoStar Pest Management, both of which were operated out of a single office in Asbury Park.

Keith Caneiro wanted to sell one of the businesses and "was frustrated with Paul and the amount of money Paul spent from their business accounts," according to the affidavit.

Colts Neck police were dispatched to Keith Caneiro's mansion in New Jersey horse country at 12:38 p.m. on Nov. 20 after a neighbor reported the house was on fire.

Officers found Keith Caneiro's body on the lawn; he had been shot once in the lower back and four times in the head.

Inside the mansion were the bodies of his wife, Jennifer, their 11-year-old son Jesse and 8-year-old daughter Sophia. The children were stabbed multiple times; their mother was shot and stabbed.

Officers searching Paul Caneiro's house in nearby Ocean Township found a plastic container in the basement containing bloody clothing and a latex glove, according to court documents. The blood was later determined to have come from Sophia Caneiro, and her DNA was found on a knife recovered at the crime scene, according to law enforcement officers.

In November, Caneiro's attorneys maintained their defendant's innocence.

"Paul Caneiro loved his brother, loved his sister-in-law like a sister, loved those children and would never do anything to harm them," said defense attorney Mitchell Ansell. "There's no reason on this earth for him to have harmed them."

First published on February 25, 2019 / 1:56 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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