Homicide unit takes over case of billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman
Autopsy results showed ligature neck compression was the cause of death, Toronto police said, after the couple was found dead in their Toronto mansion on Friday.
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The Toronto police homicide unit has taken over the investigation into the deaths of Apotex founder Barry Sherman and his wife after autopsy results revealed the couple died from ligature neck compression.
Police said post-mortem examinations were performed on Saturday and Sunday.
Sherman, 75, and his wife, Honey, 70, were found dead in their North York home just before noon on Friday. 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, a police source told the Star.
The police statement Sunday did not indicate Toronto police were investigating a homicide or homicides, only that the homicide unit had taken over investigation of the deaths.
The Sherman family issued a statement late Saturday afternoon urging police to conduct a thorough, intensive, and objective criminal investigation after several media outlets including the Star reported that police were probing the possibility of a murder-suicide as cause of death.
“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.”
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.
Some close friends of the Shermans rejected the murder-suicide theory.
“There is absolutely zero debate in my mind, this was a double homicide,” Senator Linda Frum, a longtime friend of the couple, told The New York Times.
“This idea that Barry would ever harm Honey — he adored her. That’s impossible. He was a gentle, good man.”
Fred Waks, a real estate developer and close friend of the Shermans, said: “Barry was involved in big pharmacy on a worldwide basis. His lawsuits pertained to billions of dollars, back and forth.
“When you are dealing with the size of that industry and the amounts we are talking about, you make enemies.
“And you make enemies on a global basis.”
The couple reportedly had booked a vacation near Miami Beach, Fla., where they owned a condo. Honey Sherman, who was set to leave Monday, sent out email to friends on Dec. 11 asking for dates to golf and dinner for the couple while they were there.
She signed off with: “Looking forward to hearing back asap. xoxo Honey.”
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.
After building their residence, the Shermans moved into the 50 Old Colony Rd. house in January 1991.
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.”
The address where the bodies were found was recently listed for sale for $6.9 million. Neighbours confirmed that the property was the couple’s home.
With files from Wendy Gillis, Tamar Harris and The Canadian Press
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