Police investigating possible murder-suicide in deaths of billionaire and his wife
The bodies of Barry and Honey Sherman were found in their Toronto mansion just before noon Friday. Sherman, the founder of generic drug giant Apotex, was one of the richest men in Canada, with an estimated net worth of $4.6 billion.
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Toronto police are investigating the possibility that the deaths of billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife were a murder-suicide — a theory the family is rejecting as “irresponsible” rumours.
The bodies of Sherman, 75, and his wife, Honey, were found in their North York mansion just before noon Friday.
Officially, Toronto police have released little information about the deaths, beyond that they were deemed suspicious. But police sources confirm to the Star that police are now probing the possibility that they were a murder-suicide.
Late Saturday afternoon, the family of Barry and Honey Sherman released a statement saying they don’t believe theory. The couple have four children.
“Our parents shared an enthusiasm for life and commitment to their family and community totally inconsistent with the rumours regrettably circulated in the media as to the circumstances surrounding their deaths,” the statement said.
“We are shocked and think it’s irresponsible that police sources have reportedly advised the media of a theory which neither their family, their friends nor their colleagues believe to be true.
“We urge the Toronto Police Service to conduct a thorough, intensive and objective criminal investigation, and urge the media to refrain from further reporting as to the cause of these tragic deaths until the investigation is completed.”
The bodies were discovered by the couple’s real estate agent, who had been helping to sell the multimillion-dollar home. The agent entered the house after not being able to contact the couple.
The bodies were located together by the Shermans’ indoor pool, according to a police source.
The Toronto police homicide squad is being consulted on the investigation, but the squad has not taken over as lead investigators. As of Saturday afternoon, the case was being handled by detectives with Toronto police’s 33 Division.
A post-mortem on both bodies was being conducted Saturday.
Sherman, the founder of generic drug giant Apotex, was one of the richest men in the country, with an estimated net worth of $4.6 billion. He built Apotex from a two-employee company in Toronto into a global pharmaceutical organization that employs more than 11,000 people around the world.
Police said circumstances of the deaths “appear to be suspicious,” but noted they are not looking for any suspects and that there were no signs of forced entry.
After building their residence, the Shermans moved into the house in January 1991.
Friends and colleagues of the couple were heartbroken to hear of the deaths on Friday.
“All of us at Apotex are deeply shocked and saddened by this news and our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time,” Apotex wrote in a news release.
On Saturday, the home page of the Apotex website memorialized Barry Sherman and the legacy he built.
“Dr. Sherman gave his life to the singular purpose of our organization — innovating for patient affordability,” the commemoration read. “Patients around the world live healthier and more fulfilled lives thanks to his life’s work, and his significant impact on healthcare and healthcare sustainability will have an enduring impact for many years to come.
“As employees, we are proud of his tremendous accomplishments, honoured to have known him, and vow to carry on with the Apotex purpose in his honour.”
The couple had donated millions across the city, from the United Jewish Appeal to the United Way. A charitable arm of Apotex has shipped millions of dollars worth of medicine to disaster zones.
In addition to donating to charities mainly in the Toronto area, Barry Sherman was a prominent backer of the Liberal party led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
This year, Karen Shepherd, the federal lobbying commissioner, said she was investigating the propriety of Sherman hosting a Liberal party fundraiser in 2015 that featured Trudeau before he was elected prime minister.
Because Sherman was registered as a lobbyist at the time, some political opponents and a political ethics group charged that the event violated federal lobbying rules. Apotex had asked a court to end the investigation, calling it an “unanchored fishing expedition.”
Trudeau was among many prominent Canadians who expressed sorrow over the Shermans’ deaths.
“Sophie (Grégoire Trudeau) and I are saddened by news of the sudden passing of Barry and Honey Sherman,” Trudeau wrote on Twitter. “Our condolences to their family & friends, and to everyone touched by their vision & spirit.”
Mayor John Tory also released a statement Friday.
“On behalf of all Toronto residents, I want to express my deepest condolences to the Sherman family.
With files from Victoria Gibson, Brennan Doherty, Jaren Kerr, Alex McKeen, The Canadian Press