On the night before Thanksgiving, hundreds of people from New Jersey’s Colts Neck neighborhood gathered to honor a family that had been brutally murdered in their own home just the day before.
Keith Caneiro, 50, his wife Jennifer, 45, and their two children, Jesse, 11, and Sophia, eight, were found dead at their $1.5million mansion as it went up in flames on Monday afternoon.
Caneiro, whose body was found on the front lawn, had been shot. Jennifer, Jesse, and Sophia were all stabbed to death. The police are investigating the deaths as a quadruple homicide and the fire as an arson.
The candlelight vigil comes as mystery continues to swirl around Paul Caneiro, who police believe set his own house on fire just hours before his brother was found dead.
Keith Caneiro, his wife Jennifer, and their two children Jesse and Sophia (all pictured left) were murdered at their Colts Neck, New Jersey home before it went up in flames on Tuesday. Caneiro’s brother Paul (right) has since been arrested for setting his own home on fire hours beforehand
On the night before Thanksgiving, hundreds of people from New Jersey’s Colts Neck neighborhood gathered to honor the slain family at a candlelight vigil
‘I’d be lying if I stood here and told you this was easy,’ Mayor JP Bartolomeo told the crowd as they stood on the front steps of the town hall on Wednesday night.
‘We lost four really nice people from our community, who I happened to be friends with, who my boys were friends with, a lot of you were friends with.’
‘A lot of people are asking for answers, there’s no answers. It’s a sad day yesterday. As was mentioned on TV, possibly one of the most heinous crimes in the county.’
Bartolomeo said the Caneiros were well-known in the community, often attending their children’s sporting events. Jesse played baseball while Sophia was a cheerleader, according to NJ.com.
The mayor thanked the large crowd for coming to support the Caneiros. Together they sang Our Father and Hail Mary prayers in tribute to the Catholic family.
‘We’re surrounded not only by a physical darkness, but an emotional darkness,’ Pastor Chris Durkin told the crowd as he asked them to pray for the schools and their children.
‘We can still be thankful this Thanksgiving because we still have each other.’
Paul, 51, was charged on Wednesday with aggravated arson for the fire that was reported at his own $670,000 home in Ocean Township at 5am the day before.
A memorial was created for the family at the front steps of the town hall. Mayor JP Bartolomeo said the Caneiros were well-known in the community, often attending their children’s sports games
The mayor thanked the large crowd for coming to support the Caneiros. Together they sang Our Father and Hail Mary prayers in tribute to the Catholic family
Prosecutors say he doused part of his home with gasoline from cans and then set it on fire while his wife and two adult daughters were inside.
Paul has not been charged for the murders of his brother, sister-in-law, or niece and nephew. He has not been granted bail.
A neighbor called 911 about a fire at Caneiro’s home, which was just 12 miles away from Paul’s Ocean Township residence, at 12.38pm on Monday.
Keith was shot at least twice in the back and head and his wife and children had been stabbed, according to NBC.
He’s a big fish in a little pond. His brother can afford a Colts Neck place on a piece of land. [Paul]’s a big shot in an upper-middle class neighborhood
All of the bodies were badly burned and prosecutors said they were all victims of ‘homicidal violence’.
There are no other suspects and prosecutors say the family was ‘targeted’. The investigation is ongoing but it has been slowed down by the fire.
It took firefighters several hours to put out the blaze at the family’s house. It is still unsafe and investigators have not yet been able to survey it in full.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said: ‘We can’t charge people unless we have evidence. We can’t even send largely our investigators in there.’
It remains unclear if the family was murdered before the fire was reported at Paul’s house or afterwards. It is also unknown who called 911, but he and his wife Susan escaped unharmed along with their two adult daughters.
Afterwards, he sat in his car with his wife and two daughters.
Neighbors told DailyMail.com on Wednesday they were shocked Paul had been arrested and described him as a proud homeowner.
Keith used to visit him often, they said, but had not been to his brother’s home for a while.
Keith and his family were found dead inside their $1.5million home in Colts Neck (pictured) as it burned. Keith had been shot and his wife and children had been stabbed to death
The fire at Paul’s home (pictured) was reported at 5am in Ocean Township, New Jersey. Only part of the house was damaged and no one was hurt
The two houses are 12 miles apart. There were just over seven hours between when the two fires were reported
One man, who did not wish to be named, said he believed it was unlikely that Paul would set his own house on fire because he had worked so hard on it.
He said the family seemed genuinely devastated by the fire and were ‘grieving’ over the house but that Paul made a remark about being blamed for it which surprised him.
‘He said, “They make it seem like it’s your fault.” I was like, huh? Why the hell would you say that? If I’d been him, I’d be thinking, my house is burned, how do I fix it?’
Neighbors said Paul, who was business partners with his younger brother, was ‘enamored’ with money
‘That’s what I would have been thinking – not that they made me feel like I did it. And even if they did make me feel that way, I’d still be thinking of the financial impact that it would have me.’
‘The daughters, the wife, they were all grieving, the way you would grieve over a child, because they were so proud of that house.’
‘We went over to see what happened. He was sitting in his car with his wife and girls. The first thing he said to us was, “I’m in shock.” He was visibly shaken. If it was fake, you’d have to be a pretty damned good actor. It was shaking, nervous,’ the man said.
‘His house is loaded with surveillance cameras. He also has infrared on both floors, scanning the whole house. He’s nuts with technology, everything over the top.’
‘He told me he spent $140,000 building his deck. It’s stainless steel screws, it’s so over-the-top for this neighborhood.’
‘That’s why I keep saying there’s no way he lit fire to his own house. He’s so passionate about it. It’s his baby. So to torch it? If it turns out that that’s the truth, I’ll be totally surprised,’ the man added.
The man also remarked on how Paul was ambitious but did not have the same level of success as his younger brother.
‘He’s a guy who was enamored with financial success. He liked the good stuff. He’s got his girls’ Porches for their first cars.’
‘That doesn’t fit the profile of a person who lives in this neighborhood.’
‘I mean the Porsche dealer comes and brings cars by, and tries to sell him cars at his house. I’ve seen it happen. He likes to be the big shot. He’s a big fish in a little pond.’
‘His brother can afford a Colts Neck place on a piece of land. [Paul]’s a big shot in an upper-middle class neighborhood,’ he said.
Prosecutors say Paul (right after a car accident which gave him a limp) set fire to his home using gasoline while his wife Susan, (center left) and daughters Marissa, 23, (second from right) and Katelyn, 26, (left) were inside the home
Neighbors told DailyMail.com Paul was proud of his home and had boasted about spending $140,000 on his deck. They said he was a ‘big fish in a small pond’ who lavished his daughters with Porsches but who never lived up to his younger brother’s financial success. Paul is pictured with his oldest daughter
After the fire at his house, Paul and his wife Susan stood outside for around seven hours, according to his neighbors.
‘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, told NJ.com.
‘He said, “I’m in complete shock, I can’t believe this is happening to me.” They were here until about noon. ‘
After the fire at Keith’s house was reported, emergency crews and news cameras flocked to the scene.
Videos showed smoke pouring out of the home as firefighters worked to get the blaze under control.
The burned out mansion in Colts Neck is still not fully accessible to law enforcement because of the damage caused by the blaze. There is no indication yet how it was started
The mansion in Colts Neck was torched by the fire. There were dozens of police there on Wednesday. The area is affluent and considered a safe haven for wealthy families
Jennifer and Keith paid off their mortgage two years ago. Their home (pictured during the blaze) is in an exclusive neighborhood and sits on nine acres of land
Firefighters carry a stretcher to the scene of a fatal fire at the mansion on Tuesday afternoon as the fire continued to roar
Neighbors said Jennifer Caneiro, 45, was ‘so nice’ and ‘beautiful’. Keith was CEO of technology firm Square One
A sheet, seemingly covering Keith’s body, could be seen in the middle of the yard next to the house with police tape cordoning off the area.
The brothers were partners in a tech consulting firm where Keith was the CEO and founder and Paul was the vice president.
They both grew up in Brooklyn with a younger brother, Corey, who does not appear to be involved in the fires or murders.
Both Paul and Keith married women from Staten Island.
At Paul’s wedding in 1991, Keith acted as the best man.
After the fire at his house (pictured), Paul stood in the street with ‘tears in his eyes’ and told neighbors a gas leak had caused it. He left the area at noon, 40 minutes before the fire was reported at his brother’s home 12 miles away
There was some damage to the house’s attic but it was nowhere near as burned as his brother’s home
A police officer outside the home of Paul and Susan Caneiro on Wednesday after he was taken into custody on arson charges
Forensics teams were seen entering Paul Caneiro’s home on Wednesday afternoon as he remained in custody
They were also partners in a pest control company they operated from the same office.
Colts Neck, where Keith lived, is a well-to-do community about 50 miles south of New York City and is home to horse farms.
One woman, who owns a horse farm near Keith’s home, told The Asbury Park Press that Jennifer often brought the children by to feed the horses.
She said she was ‘so nice’ and ‘beautiful’.
Typical homes in Colts Neck are valued at about $750,000.
According to records obtained by NJ.com, Jennifer and Keith paid off their $1.8million mortgage two years ago.