Accused arsonist will be exonerated, any link to Colts Neck killings ‘pure speculation,’ lawyer says

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The lawyer for the New Jersey man whose brother was among four slain at their sprawling Colts Neck mansion earlier this week, which was set ablaze in a suspicious fire, said his client would ultimately be exonerated.

Paul Caneiro, 51, of Ocean Township, has been charged with aggravated arson for allegedly setting his own Ocean Township home on fire early Tuesday morning with his wife and two daughters inside, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.

His wife and two daughters were unharmed.

Hours later, however, firefighters rushed to a raging fire at the Colts Neck home of Paul Canerio’s bother, Keith, who was found dead of gunshot wounds in the front yard. His wife and two kids were dead inside.

All four were killed – murdered – before the fire was set, authorities have said.

However, despite mounting suspicion, Paul’s lawyer proclaimed his client’s innocence.

“His family fully supports him … It is our firm belief that my client will be exonerated when the case is finally resolved,” said Ocean Township-based defense attorney Robert A. Honecker Jr., a former top prosecutor in the Monmouth prosecutor’s office.

Paul, who has not been charged in the homicides but charged for aggravated arson in the fire at his own home, remains in the Monmouth County jail in Freehold. He is scheduled to appear at a detention hearing on Wednesday, according to Honecker.

Honecker said at the hearing, he will ask the judge to release Paul.

“The only charges that are currently pending in the aggravated arson of his own residence,” Honecker said. “There are no charges that are filed against him in any other matter, and any connection to what happened in Colts Neck is pure speculation.”

Honecker said that anyone who knew Paul “would attend that he loved his brother and would not do anything to harm to him.”

“They were best friends … his brother was his best man at his wedding, and they talked to each other every day,” he added.

Keith, 50, was found shot to death in the yard of his property on Willow Brook Road after firefighters rushed to the raging fire at the home midday Tuesday. His wife, Jennifer Caneiro, 45, and the couple’s children, Jesse, 11, and Sophia, 8, were found killed inside the residence.

No charges have been filed in the homicides as detectives investigate.

‘We still have each other.’ Colts Neck mourns family of 4 found killed after fire

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page, “Helping the Caneiro Family,” has been created, apparently by a friend of one of Paul Caneiro’s daughters.

It says that while the killings are making national headlines, “What you have not heard about is the state that the rest of the family has been left in as a result of this tragedy.”

“The surviving Caneiro family has lost their family members that they loved dearly…Not only are they dealing with the tragic loss of their family, they also have nothing and nowhere to go. They have lost their home and all of their belongings. The news doesn’t cover the fact that the family is on their own right now.”

The page’s creator did not immediately respond to a message through the site.

The detention hearing Wednesday for Paul Caneiro will be before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge James J. McGann.

Spencer Kent may be reached at skent@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerMKent. Find the Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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