Billionaire couple's mysterious deaths being treated as murder
The mysterious deaths of a Canadian billionaire and his wife shortly before Christmas are now being treated as murder, Toronto police announced yesterday.
Barry (75) and Honey (70) Sherman were found dead in their home on December 15.
Mr Sherman was the founder of Canadian pharmaceutical giant Apotex, and both he and his wife have been recognised internationally for their philanthropic work. The socially active couple were believed to have amassed a fortune of some $3.65bn (€2.9bn) before their deaths.
An estate agent found them in the basement hanging by belts to a railing near their indoor pool in seated positions. The police did not find any signs of forced entry into the home.
An autopsy found the cause of death to be "ligature neck compression", meaning strangulation.
Detective Sergeant Susan Gomes said yesterday afternoon that police made the determination after six weeks of collecting evidence at the billionaire couple's Toronto home.
Police say the couple were targeted, but investigators did not identify any potential suspects, though Det-Sgt Gomes said there is an "extensive list" of people that police intend to interview.
"We have sufficient evidence to describe this as a double homicide investigation and that both Honey and Barry Sherman were in fact targeted," Det-Sgt Gomes said.
She said they were last seen alive in the evening of Wednesday, December 13 and were not heard from again until their bodies were found late Friday morning.
The day after the bodies were found, some prominent news media outlets quoted unidentified police officials as saying the deaths appeared to be a murder-suicide.
That upset the couple's four adult children, who then hired their own team of investigators and a pathologist, who conducted second autopsies on the Shermans.
The family said in a statement yesterday that the new conclusion "was expressed by the family from the outset and is consistent with the findings of the independent autopsy and investigation".
The Sherman family has hired a team of experts - which includes a number of former Toronto homicide detectives - to conduct a separate, independent investigation.
Mr Sherman was known for litigiousness and aggressive businesses practices as he developed Apotex Inc., which has a global workforce of about 11,000. In 'Prescription Games', a 2001 book about the industry, he mused that a rival might want to kill him.
"The branded drug companies hate us. They have hired private investigators on us all the time," he said. "The thought once came to mind, why didn't they just hire someone to knock me off? For a thousand bucks paid to the right person you can probably get someone killed. Perhaps I'm surprised that hasn't happened."
Friends and family say the couple had been making plans for the future. They had recently put their home in Toronto up for sale for $6.9m (€4.5m) and they were building a new home in the city. (© Daily Telegraph, London)