COLTS NECK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Hundreds of mourners gathered Sunday for the funeral of a New Jersey family whose bodies were found at their burning mansion two days before Thanksgiving.
The service for Keith Caneiro; his wife, Jennifer, and their two young children, Jesse and Sophia, took place at the Holmdel Funeral home in Holmdel, less than a mile away from their home in Colts Neck. Keith Caneiro’s older brother, Paul, is charged with the killings and has pleaded not guilty.
The couple’s relatives issued a statement Sunday saying they were “grateful for the outpouring of love and support we have received” from friends and the community. They also asked for privacy as they grieve.
“The passing of these four beautiful people was tragic, sudden and incomprehensible and, like you, we are heartbroken. May we all take comfort in the wonderful memories and incredible moments of joy they gave to all of us,” the statement read.
“If you could just keep them in your thoughts,” Holmdel resident Angela Zirino told CBS2’s Dave Carlin.
Authorities have said Paul Caneiro shot his brother, shot and stabbed his sister-in-law, and stabbed the children before dawn, then set the mansion on fire and returned to his Ocean Township home. He is accused of setting fire to that residence as his wife and two adult daughters slept upstairs. All three safely escaped from the home.
During a court hearing Friday, Paul Caneiro pleaded not guilty to the murder charges and to arson counts stemming from both fires.
Monmouth County prosecutors have called the motive for the slayings “financial” and said Paul Caneiro set the fire at his home to destroy evidence and to make it appear someone was targeting his extended family.
“We allege this was a ruse,” Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said.
Defense lawyers have said they haven’t seen any evidence their client was financially strapped and added he had no reason to kill his brother’s family.
The brothers had started a computer consulting business in Brooklyn that had grown to have 26 employees by 2001, with clients including Citibank. They had renamed it Square One, and moved to the quieter New Jersey suburbs. They married and started families — with each brother standing up for the other at their weddings — and added a pest control company along the way.
A source told CBS2 the tech company was struggling and on the verge of shutting down. Paul Caneiro reportedly had an accident a few years ago and ended up on disability and walks with a cane. The prosecutor would not comment on his toxicology report.
The killings have startled the affluent horse-country community of Colts Neck, home to Bruce Springsteen and where former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart and his wife run an animal sanctuary.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)