Canadian billionaire couple victims of ‘targeted’ double homicide
One of Canada’s richest men and his wife were killed in a targeted double homicide, Toronto police confirmed Friday in their first official briefing into the couple’s mysterious deaths more than six weeks ago.
Police came to the conclusion after thousands of hours of investigation and painstakingly collecting and analysing hundreds of pieces of evidence from the couple’s mansion in northern Toronto and their condo in Florida, said lead investigator Susan Gomes.
The bodies of pharmaceutical billionaire Barry Sherman, 75, and his wife Honey, 70, were found hanging by belts from a pool-side railing in a semi-seated position shortly before noon on December 15, Gomes said.
They were both fully clothed and police said they did not find any signs of forced entry into the home.
At the start of the investigation, Gomes said police considered three possibilities: that the couple’s deaths were a double suicide, a murder-suicide or a double homicide.
However, evidence has led investigators to believe that the couple was murdered, she said.
“Both Honey and Barry Sherman were in fact targeted,” Gomes said.
Police refused to discuss any information about possible suspects or motives, but said they have collected more than 120 witness statements and scoured through more than 2,000 hours of video surveillance from the vicinity of Sherman’s house.
Toronto police have also attempted to search Barry Sherman’s workplace at Apotex Inc., a generic drug manufacturing company that he founded in 1973, turning it into the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company.
“Legal complexities in some executions have been challenging, given the litigious nature of Barry Sherman’s businesses, in particular the search and seizure of electronics in his workspace at Apotex,” Gomes said.
In a statement released shortly after Friday’s news conference, the Sherman family said they had believed from the very beginning the deaths were a double homicide.
“This conclusion was expressed by the family from the outset and is consistent with the findings of the independent autopsy and investigation,” the statement reads.
“The family continues to support the Toronto Police Service in their efforts to seek justice for their parents and pursue those responsible for these unspeakable crimes.”
Police said they have now turned the couple’s home back to the family, which has hired private investigators to conduct a separate, independent investigation.
The private investigators have found evidence that both Barry and Honey Sherman had been targeted by multiple killers, CBC News reported earlier this week, citing an anonymous source with direct knowledge of the parallel investigation.
Honey Sherman’s body showed signs that she had struggled with her assailants, the source told CBC News.
She had cuts on her lip and nose, and was sitting in a pool of her own blood when she was discovered. However, there was comparatively little blood apparent on her upper-body clothing, suggesting that she had been face-down on the tiles, bleeding, for some time before being bound to the handrail in an upright position, the source told CBC News.
The couple died of “ligature neck compression,” or strangulation, according to official autopsy results released by the Toronto police last month.
Friends described Honey Sherman as warm, genuine and someone who loved to socialize. Barry Sherman had a reputation as a workaholic, loved by his employees and feared by competitors against whom he waged hundreds of lawsuits.
Sherman also faced legal action from family members alleging they had been cut out of the company over the years.
Sherman had an estimated net worth of 4.77 billion Canadian dollars (3.71 billion US dollars), making him Canada’s 15th richest person. Apotex employs more than 11,000 people globally.
The Shermans were also well-known for their philanthropic endeavours.
The Apotex Foundation, a privately held charitable organization, has donated more than 50 million Canadian dollars over the last 10 years, the company said.(dpa/NAN)