The manaccused of murdering his millionaire brother and his family before setting fire to their mansion and his own house acted perfectly normal the day before the crimes, his employee has said.
Paul Caneiro, 51, was his ‘usual self’ at work the day before the murders in Colts Neck, New Jersey, said David Natelson, the business manager of the pest control company the brothers owned, in an interview with the
Natelson said that ‘Paul was Paul’ on November 19, keeping his nose buried in his iPad as usual after coming in to work at Ecostar Pest Management.
‘Nothing I saw on Monday was any different than anything I had seen any other day,’ he said.
The business manager said that although he wasn’t privy to the inner financial workings, he wasn’t aware of any particular money problems at the pest control company, which along with technology company Square One was one of two that the brothers owned together.
Paul Caneiro, 51, was his ‘usual self’ at work the day before the murders in Colts Neck, New Jersey, the business manager at his company said
Caneiro’s brother Keith was shot multiple times, his wife Jennifer was shot and stabbed and their children Sophia and Jesse, 11, were stabbed ‘repeatedly’. The family is seen above
Keith Caneiro’s burned-out mansion is seen on Thursday in Colts Neck, New Jersey. The millionaire was found shot outside his burning mansion with his stabbed wife and children
On Friday, Caneiro made his first court appearance to plead not guilty to four counts of murder.
Caneiro was limping badly and supported by court officers as he was brought into the packed courtroom at Monmouth Superior Court in Ocean Township shortly before 9.30am.
He was unshaven, wearing prison-issued dark green overalls and was handcuffed around the waist. Caneiro appeared dazed and emotionless and stared straight ahead as he responded to the judge in monosyllabic ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers.
His wife Susan and two adult daughters Marissa, 23, and Katelyn, 26, did not attend the hearing but his lawyers later said that his family were supporting him and had decided it ‘better’ not to be at the brief detention hearing.
Monmouth County Superior Court Judge James J. McGann began by reading Caneiro his rights and then assistant prosecutor Christopher Decker stood in front of Caneiro and read the charges against him.
In addition to the second degree aggravated arson charge he has been facing since last week, he is now facing four first degree murder charges, another count of aggravated arson, one count of possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose and one count of possession of a knife for an unlawful purpose.
Each one of the murder charges carries a sentence of between 30 years and life imprisonment.
Paul Caneiro, 51, pleaded not guilty on Friday to murdering his brother and his family before setting their $1.5 million mansion on fire. The 51-year-old looked dazed and emotionless at he sat at Monmouth Superior Court in Ocean Township in New Jersey
Prosecutors say Paul shot his brother then shot and stabbed Jennifer before ‘repeatedly’ stabbing his niece and nephew in their mansion and then allegedly went to the basement of the home and set a fire that would take hours to get going
Caneiro’s defense attorney Robert A. Honecker entered a plea of not guilty to all charges but consented to his client’s continued detention. Honecker did not contest the probable cause at the hearing but said he reserved the right to challenge it at a later date.
Caneiro then got to his feet unsteadily and placed his hand on the Bible. He responded ‘I do’ when asked he if he understood his rights and when asked by the judge if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he replied: ‘No I’m not.’
After the 15-minute hearing, he was helped down from the box by court officers again.
Prosecutor Christopher Grammicioni did not wish to comment further outside of the courtroom.
Outside of court, defense attorneys Honecker and co-counsel Richard B. Ansell made a short statement.
‘We understand that Mr Caneiro has been charged with four counts of murder and associated charges of arson. Mr Caneiro maintains his innocence of the charges and he would never engage in conduct that would cause harm to his brother or his family,’ Honecker said, adding that they planned to challenge the evidence put forward by the prosecutor’s office.
Ansell said: ‘Mr Caneiro loves his brother, loves his sister-in-law like a sister, loves those children. He would never do anything to harm them.’
The attorneys refused to comment when asked who may have targeted the Caneiro family and said that the case was a ‘search for the truth’. They also declined to address questions about Caneiro’s state of mind.
Paul Caneiro was charged on Thursday with murdering his younger brother Keith, 50, and Keith’s wife and children, Jennifer, 45, Jesse, 11, and Sophia, eight.
It is unclear what finally led police to file charges against Paul who has been in custody on aggravated arson charge for the past week, but they say he the killings were ‘financially motivated’
His wife Susan and two adult daughters Marissa, 23, (second from right) and Katelyn, 26, (left) did not attend the hearing but his lawyers later said that his family were supporting him and had decided it ‘better’ not to be at the brief detention hearing
Paul’s lawyer Mitchell Ansell (left) said: ‘Mr Caneiro loves his brother, loves his sister-in-law like a sister, loves those children. He would never do anything to harm them’
Prosecutors say Paul shot his brother then shot and stabbed Jennifer before ‘repeatedly’ stabbing his niece and nephew in their mansion in Colts Neck, New Jersey, in the early hours of November 20.
He then allegedly went to the basement of the home and set a fire that would take hours to get going, returned home and set his own house on fire in an effort to make it appear as though he too had been targeted.
It is unclear what finally led police to file charges against Paul who has been in custody on aggravated arson charge for the past week, but they say he the killings were ‘financially motivated’.
It emerged this week that Keith Caneiro had been talking ‘openly’ about cutting ties with the business partner brother before he was murdered, it emerged this week.
The two brothers were business partners who formed their technology company, Square One, together in 1987. At the time it was called Jay-Martin and specialized in computer installing but it grew in success and size as the internet boomed.
Keith started it and brought Paul in as his first hire when he got his first contracts with Citibank and at the Statue of Liberty.
According to The New York Times , their decades-long business brotherhood had come under recent tension.
Keith, the younger of the two, had been talking about his desire to try something new and was eager to go to work for a larger company as a CIO (Chief Information Officer).
Keith’s wife Susan, left, and one of his adult daughters, right, were seen at the property on Wednesday. Last week, they said they would stand by him and believed he was innocent of arson
Workers were seen at Keith’s home in Ocean Township on Wednesday. It was partially damaged in the fire police say he set himself while he was inside with his wife and adult daughters
The two houses are 12 miles apart; there were just over seven hours between the two fires
TIMELINE OF FIRES AND MURDERS
Early hours of Tuesday November 20: Paul Caneiro allegedly shoots his brother Keith outside his home then stabs and shoots Keith’s wife Jennifer and stabs their two children inside.
He allegedly sets a fire in the basement then leaves
5.01am: A fire is reported at Paul Caneiro’s home in Ocean Township. He escapes it with his wife and two adult daughters
12pm: Paul and his family leave the area after staying for hours to talk to police
12.38pm: A fire at Keith Caneiro’s home is reported by a landscaper.
Once they arrive, police find Keith’s body outside, shot at least twice, and his wife and children inside.
It takes several hours for them to extinguish the fire
November 21: Prosecutors charge Paul with setting the fire at his own home but will not say if he is a suspect in the murders
November 24: Paul’s wife and daughters say he is innocent of arson and will testify in his favor
November 29: Paul is charged with the murders
November 30: Paul’s court appearance
December 2: Funeral for Keith, Jennifer, Jesse and Sophia
Police sources cited by NJ.com also said the business was struggling to stay afloat. ‘He would just mention it to everyone. He wanted to try something different,’ Ameet Chaudhury, who attended Columbia University with Keith when he returned to obtain an undergraduate history degree in 2014, said.
The brothers were raised in Brooklyn with a third brother, Corey. Their father was a Spanish immigrant and they were brought up in a typical ‘working class’ environment, according to friends.
For years, they were by one another’s side. Keith was Paul’s best man when he got married to his wife Susan in 1991 and Paul was in Keith’s wedding party when he married his wife Jennifer.
The business in Asbury Park grew and changed its name from Jay-Martin, named in honor of the brothers’ middle names, to Square One.
At some stage, they also acquired EcoStar Pest Management. Friends and co-workers told the Times that in recent year, Paul was in charge of the pest management business and Keith was left to run the technology business.
Paul underwent multiple surgeries around five years ago after getting into a car accident and according to friends it changed his behavior.
‘He was frustrated, but not to the point to hurt his family members,’ family friend Demetris Potamianos said, emphasizing his disbelief over what Paul now stands accused of.
‘It was Paul and Keith all the time. It was the perfect helpful brother relationship.
‘The last thing I can ever picture is Paul doing something like that. Paul was like a father to all of them. Shocking is not the word.’
They said the accused was a proud gun owner who had previously revealed his collection of handguns and rifles.
Prosecutors say that on November 20, he went to his brother’s house in the early hours of the morning, shot him outside and then entered the home where he allegedly shot and stabbed Jennifer then stabbed Sophia and Jesse ‘repeatedly’.
It emerged this week that Keith Caneiro (pictured with his wife Jennifer) had been talking ‘openly’ about cutting ties with the business partner brother before he was murdered, it emerged this week
The couple’s young son and daughter were also found dead in the horrific blaze on Tuesday
Heartbreaking tributes to the family were left including some addressed to Sophia and Jesse
It is unclear if they were asleep when they were attacked. After allegedly killing them, Paul went to basement of the house where prosecutors say he set a fire.
They say he then left the house, leaving the fire smoldering, and returned to his own home where he set another fire using cans of gasoline. He survived that fire along with his wife and their two adult daughters.
Prosecutors say the fire at his home was an attempted ‘ruse’ to make it look like he too had been targeted by a mysterious arsonist but was also a way for him to get rid of evidence he had brought back with him from their home.
The blaze at Keith’s house was not reported until 12.38pm. Police say it was fed for several hours by oxygen blowing through the house.
‘It continued to smolder until there was entry made into the home, a great deal of oxygen coming into the home effectively fed that fire.
‘(The fire) wasn’t reported until 12:38, what we believed caused the fire to catch on from there is the feeding of oxygen once the house was entered into,’ Montmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said at a press conference on Thursday, adding that it was ‘the most brutal crime’ he had ever seen.
‘There were two reasons for the fire at his home,’ he went on, explaining why Paul allegedly set the fire at his own house.
‘One was to destroy evidence that he brought back from the Colts Neck crime scene and the other was to create some sort of ruse that his family was targeted,’ Gramiccioni said.
The burned out mansion is pictured on Thursday
Montmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni (pictured) said at a press conference on Thursday, adding that it was ‘the most brutal crime’ he had ever seen
‘The defendant’s motive was financial in nature, stemming from their joint business ventures that they owned and operated out of Asbury Park,’ he went on, adding there was no evidence that either brother had any link to organized crime.
It remains unclear if he is being cooperative or if he has confessed to any of the crimes.
Neighbors previously described Paul as a ‘big fish in a small pond’ who was enamored’ with money but never quite lived up to his younger brother’s wealth.
When police arrived at Keith’s burning home on November 20, they found him shot outside.
Jennifer had been shot and stabbed and the children had been stabbed ‘repeatedly’.
Their bodies were badly burned and it took investigative teams days to be able to get into the house to survey the damage. At 5am that morning, a fire was reported at Paul’s home in Ocean Township, 12 miles away.
He was at the home with his adult daughters and wife at the time but they all made it out alive and stayed at the scene for hours afterwards to talk to police.
He left the area at around noon. Forty minutes later, the fire at Keith’s home was reported.
On November 21, Paul was charged with arson for allegedly setting fire to his own home but authorities refused to say whether he was a suspect in his brother’s death or the deaths of his family.
Neighbors of Paul’s in Ocean Township told DailyMail.com afterwards that they would be surprised if he had had anything to do with his brother’s murder and that they thought it was unlikely he would set fire to his own house because he was so proud of it.
They described him as being a ‘big fish in a small pond’ who never quite lived up to the wealth his younger brother had amassed.
‘He said it must have been a gas leak, he had tears in his eyes.
‘Susan was devastated,’ one neighbor, who did not want to be named. ‘He said, ‘I’m in complete shock, I can’t believe this is happening to me.’