In December 2017, Canadian pharmaceuticals billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife were both found “hanging from a railing that surrounds a lap pool inside their luxury Toronto mansion.
Barry Sherman made his fortune by founding the global generic drug giant Apotex Inc. Both of the Shermans were well known in Canada for their philanthropy. There are indications that Honey Sherman was killed first.
Later reports said that the Shermans may have died in a “murder suicide,”
However, family members have pushed back at the murder-suicide claims, releasing a statement to the Globe and Mail that read, “Our parents shared an enthusiasm for life and commitment to their family and community totally inconsistent with the rumors regrettably circulated in the media as to the circumstances surrounding their deaths. 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.”
Autopsies showed the cause of death was ligature neck compression, and the homicide unit is now investigating the case.
Here’s what we know:
1. Police Labeled the Deaths ‘Suspicious’ After Being Called to the Home for a ‘Medical Complaint’ & the Family’s Experts Think It Was a Double Murder, Reports Say
Toronto homicide Det. Brandon Price told reporters “that police ‘cannot say 100 per cent with certainty’ whether or not foul play was involved,” CBC reported. New details have emerged via sources in the Toronto Sun.
“Sources say investigators found the Shermans, side by side, in their windowless pool room, each with a men’s leather belt wrapped around their necks and tied to the pool railing. Both had on jackets that were pulled ‘behind their backs’ and rolled down over their arms. It is believed the camera in the pool area had been disconnected,” reported the newspaper.
Police were first alerted that something was amiss at the Sherman mansion when they were called there for a “medical complaint,” according to Fox News. It’s not clear who made that call. Const. David Hopkinson would not identify the bodies, Fox reported, but he said the deaths were “suspicious.”
“The circumstances of their death appear suspicious and we are treating it that way,” Hopkinson said at a news conference outside the mansion, according to Fox. However, Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins identified the two bodies as those of Barry and Honey Sherman. He also said that police were still investigating what happened inside the Sherman dwelling.
According to Fox News, “The constable declined to say whether the bodies showed signs of trauma and did not provide details on the time or cause of death. However, he said the deaths were currently not being treated as homicides but added that more investigation would be necessary.”
As for the possibility of a murder-suicide, which police have not yet confirmed, the Toronto Sun indicated that police sources believe Honey may have been killed first. “Sources close to the case believe Honey may have been killed in a secondary location in the $6.9 million Old Colony Rd. house and then moved to the location where she was later found with her deceased husband,” reported the Toronto newspaper. The Sun reported that police sources say there was no evidence anyone else had been in the home or that there was forced entry.
According to the Star, experts hired by the family do not think the deaths were a double murder. “Barry and Honey Sherman were killed in what looks like a professional, contract killing. That’s the conclusion of a variety of experts who have been hired by the family to probe the case,” the newspaper reported, adding, “There are markings on the Shermans’ wrists, an indication that at some point their hands were tied together, though no rope or other ties were found near the bodies. Toxicology tests on their bodies reveal no sign of drugs that would have contributed to their deaths. Men’s leather belts found around their necks were the cause of the ‘ligature compression’ that killed them. A top forensic pathologist who did a second autopsy determined this was a double homicide, barring any new information that surfaces.”
2. The House Was For Sale & a Real Estate Agent Discovered the Bodies
A real estate agent made the grisly discovery, according to The Globe and Mail. “The Shermans had just put their house on Old Colony Road, in a posh North York neighbourhood, up for sale for $6.9-million. A relative, who asked not to be identified, said a real estate agent, preparing for an open house, had discovered the two bodies in the large home’s basement Friday morning,” the Globe and Mail reported on Saturday, December 16, 2017.
Despite the early labeling of the deaths as suspicious, the Globe and Mail reported that, in the hours after the deaths were discovered, “the homicide squad was not in charge of the probe and the investigation was being conducted by detectives with the local 33 Division.” That would normally occur in the case of a double murder, the news site reported. Police told the Toronto Sun they are not seeking suspects at this time.
3. Honey & Barry Sherman Were Worth Billions.
Barry Sherman’s net worth was pegged at $3 billion by Forbes Magazine in 2017, although some accounts say his fortune was even larger. According to Forbes, Barry Sherman (who was born Bernard Sherman), began his path to riches in 1974, when, “armed with a doctorate in rocket science from MIT,” Sherman used his “mother’s life savings to buy his uncle’s drug company. Starting with two employees, he expanded the company to a workforce of over 10,000 making it one of Canada’s largest pharmaceutical companies, selling over 260 generic drugs in more than 115 countries.”
The company’s medicines “are used to fill over 89 million prescriptions a year in Canada alone, and annual global revenues are $1.5 billion. Apotex makes fine chemicals, non-prescription drugs and disposable plastics for medical use. Sherman stepped down as CEO in 2014 but remained chairman,” reported Forbes, which listed Barry Sherman as the 12th richest Canadian.
Apotex released a statement on Twitter that read, “We’ve been informed of the tragic news that Barry and Honey Sherman have unexpectedly passed away. 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.”
4. The Shermans Were Planning a Trip to Florida.
The Shermans were making plans for the future as recently as the Monday of the week they died. According to the Globe and Mail, Honey Sherman “e-mailed friends to book social dates on the couple’s upcoming Florida trip” that Monday. The news site reports that the couple had four children and a new grandchild.
“Looking forward to getting together in Florida. I am coming south Monday, December 18 – Friday, January 12,” Honey Sherman wrote in the email, according to Globe and Mail. “Barry is coming south for Monday December 25 & going home with me Jan. 12. Please let me know your dates south asap so i can place in my calendar… Looking forward to hearing back asap. Xoxo Honey.”
Barry and Honey Sherman were opposites, according to Globe and Mail, which reported that, while Honey Sherman was an “outgoing socialite,” Barry Sherman “was consumed with work and that he devoted almost all of his time and energy to Apotex, frequently sleeping for only a few hours a night. He had almost no outside interests and no taste for luxury, once driving an old car into such disrepair that Ms. Sherman went out and bought him a new Mercedes.”