A New Jersey man charged with murdering four members of his family is accused of stealing $90,000 prior to their November 2018 deaths, according to a newly filed wrongful death lawsuit.
Paul Caneiro was indicted on multiple charges including four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his brother Keith Caneiro, 50; Keith’s wife, Jennifer Caneiro, 45; and their two children, Jesse, 11, and Sophia, 8.
The family was found dead at their Colts Neck home on Nov. 20, 2018, after a neighbor called police to report that the residence was on fire. Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said during a press conference at the time that the house was set ablaze after the family had been shot and stabbed.
The suit, filed Monday in Superior Court of Monmouth County, accuses Caneiro of taking money from Keith’s family in the months leading up to their murders. It was filed by Vlassis Karidis, the children’s maternal grandfather.
In April 2018, Jennifer told her family that she and her husband had discovered that Caneiro was “stealing their money” from trusts they had set up for Jesse and Sophia, according to the suit.
He had also diverted money from his niece and nephew’s college funds to accounts for his own children, it says. Keith told Karidis three days before the murders that the amount Caneiro took from the college funds was $90,000.
The lawsuit further alleges that Keith had complained about his brother not “carrying his weight” with their joint business and spending excessive amounts of money. Keith told Karidis that he was going to cut off Caneiro’s $225,000 annual salary.
Keith was found dead on the front lawn of his home. The lawsuit, citing an autopsy, states that he was shot five times including four in the head. Jennifer and the children were found dead inside the home.
Jennifer, according to the suit, died from a gunshot wound to the head and stab wounds to the torso. Jesse died from stab wounds with the contributing cause as smoke inhalation.
Sophia was stabbed multiple times with her cause of death listed as “sharp-force injuries and smoke inhalation.” The suit says that she survived her stab wounds “for an unimaginable period of time but long enough to experience breathing difficulty and the onset of high-degree stress.”
The suit alleges that Caneiro’s negligence and recklessness led to the deaths and that Sophia experienced “great pain and mental suffering” before she died. Karidis is seeking an unspecified amount of damages.
Caneiro pleaded not guilty to the murders during a court appearance in March 2019. An attorney was not listed for him in the wrongful death lawsuit and a public defender who represented him at the 2019 court appearance could not immediately be reached for comment. His lawyers said in a statement in 2018 that Caneiro “had absolutely nothing to do with these horrific crimes.”