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‘One of the most brutal cases I have seen’ – Brother charged in slaying of family

Posted: Updated:
COLTS NECK -

Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni called the killing of a Monmouth County family earlier this month “one of the most brutal cases” he has ever seen.

Gramiccioni announced Thursday that Paul Caneiro, 51, was charged for the murder of his brother Keith, Keith’s wife Jennifer and the couple’s two children, 11-year-old Jesse and 8-year-old Sophia. Paul Caneiro then allegedly set fire to the Colts Neck home to cover his tracks.

Gramiccioni says Paul Caneiro shot his brother multiple times on the front lawn of the Willow Brook Road mansion in the early morning hours of Nov. 20. The prosecutor says that Paul Caneiro then shot and stabbed Jennifer Caneiro and then stabbed the children. He then set fire to the home in the basement, according to investigators.

RELATED: Funeral service set for family found dead at burning mansion
MORE: Community mourns slain Colts Neck family
VIDEO: Chopper 12 footage above Colts Neck mansion fire
VIDEO: Extended footage of press conference on Colts Neck mansion fire

"From there we allege that the defendant intentionally set fire at his home at or about 5 a.m. for the purpose of both destroying evidence of his crime in Colts Neck and to also create the illusion that the overall Caneiro family was somehow victimized or targeted,” Gramiccioni said at a news conference.

The prosecutor says that the motive was “financial in nature," stemming from two businesses - a computer systems company called Square One and a pest control business - he and his brother jointly ran in Asbury Park. Gramiccioni declined to elaborate, saying the investigation was incomplete.

The fire at the Colts Neck home burned for hours, causing it to be badly damaged. The area is still fenced off. Friends and loved ones of the Caneiro family have placed signs, photographs and flowers at the site as a memorial to the family. Dozens of Monmouth County residents came out for a candlelight vigil honoring the family a day after their deaths.

Paul Caneiro’s attorneys say that he is innocent.

“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,” attorneys said in a statement. “The process today can begin for a search for the truth and who committed these horrendous acts.”

Paul Caneiro faces four counts of murder charges, as well as arson and weapons charges. He is expected to appear in court Friday.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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