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Spot the Differences: Another Exercise in Intertextuality

Think the Watts Family Murders are bad? How about a quadruple murder involving a brother stabbing his brother’s wife and children to death, shooting his brother multiple times in the back and head before setting his brother’s house on fire.
The Watts case and the Caneiro case are nothing alike, right?
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From the Daily Beast:

Outside the mansion, Keith’s body was found on the front lawn, with a gunshot wound on his lower back and “four shots into his head.” Jennifer Caneiro, who was found inside on the stairs leading to the basement, also sustained a gunshot wound to the head as well as “multiple stab wounds to her torso.” Sophia was found on the stairs leading to the second floor, while her brother’s body was in the kitchen. Both sustained fatal stab wounds.  “This one is the most brutal cases that I’ve seen in my experience here,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a press conference at the time.

It takes a little digging to get to some of the basics, such as that an email was the trigger and the fact that the crime was executed at night. From

Keith forwarded that email to a relative about 7 p.m. the night before he was found dead with his family, according to the affidavit.

About seven hours later [approximately 02:00], neighbors’ surveillance cameras captured headlights and a white colored SUV, believed to be a Porsche, leaving Paul Caneiro’s Ocean Township home and arriving back two hours later at about 04:00. Authorities allege that’s the night Paul Caneiro, 52, traveled to Willow Brook Road in Colts Neck where he killed his brother and his brother’s family and left the secluded mansion ablaze.

So our ballpark figure for when this crime happened is around midnight to 01:00. Agreed? So we have two parents and two young children [Jesse, 11 and Sophia, 8] inside the house when they were attacked. And it’s late at night. Were any of them murdered in their beds? I can guarantee you the perpetrator would like you to think so.
Without even looking at the merits of the case, we can see a similar defense emerging as the one Watts used. How was Caneiro involved? Why he was at the house trying to save the family! [Just as Watts was innocently heading up the stairs when he saw Shan’ann murdering his brood, and he only killed her to “save” them.]
And sure enough, Googling “Paul Caneiro save” you get this, from

Family members of Paul J. Caneiro may describe for a judge his efforts to save them from the fire he is accused of setting at their Ocean Township home just hours before his brother and his family were found murdered at their Colts Neck mansion, his attorney said.

Defense attorney Robert A. Honecker Jr. said he plans to meet with his client’s wife and two daughters either Monday or Tuesday to discuss the possibility of their testifying at a detention hearing designed to determine whether Caneiro will remain in jail without bail to await trial.

“If they do testify, it’s anticipated they will describe the events that they observed in the early morning hours of Nov. 20,” Honecker said. “It’s anticipated they will describe his efforts to save his family from the fire.”

Authorities have not yet released the cause of death of the wife and two children, and Honecker said he hasn’t learned anything more about how they died.”His arrest was related solely to the alleged arson at his residence.”

Whereas Watts concealed his family in oil and dust, Paul Caneiro used flames. Like Watts, Caneiro was initially charged with suspected of a lesser crime at first. But there’s something else glaringly obvious that these two crimes have in common. Do you see it?
You don’t even have to look closely.
Below are two images of two houses. Anything about them that’s sort of similar? That’s true crime intertextuality for you.
More: Bullets, money trouble and a bloody glove: Affidavit lays out Colts Neck quadruple homicide
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  1. Jennifer Hamrick

    Nick, both homes have two levels or more, including a basement,
    where there were traces of evidence found in the Paul Caneiro
    Are these similarities what you are referring to?

  2. Laura Thompson

    Both homes are outrageously huge, and way more house than an average family would ever need, very ostentatious. I wonder if the New Jersey family could actually afford theirs? We know Chris and Shan’ann certainly could not.

    • CBH

      You’ve basically said everything I was going to say.

      • Clean Queen

        Yep, same!

  3. K

    Big house, no money? The only thing missing is a gf so far. Also, the family has to be taking sides on who they think did it. I think I read that the other brother can’t believe his brother would kill anyone.

    • nickvdl

      Big houses, big money problems. That’s clear in both these cases, one can see this a mile away. The big house symbolizes a lot of money/greed. The absence of money – debt – creates a massive tension between having a lot and wanting more. This leads to an explosion = the crime.

    • Joe

      The other brother was the one who gave the police the information. He was the first to accuse him.

  4. Shannon

    The NJ home was 1.5 million. Paid for from 2 years ago. Keith was quite smart in business. His brother( Paul) took about 78.000.00 from one business. He also had a nice home. This murder is financial. Keith was stopping his monthly amount to Paul. Until the money was returned / found.
    Killing here, guns,knives,fire.
    Watts home, not paid for. Financial problems also.
    I have looked at both homes, but not quite sure, similarity?

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