Toronto’s homicide detectives have taken over the investigation into the “suspicious” deaths of one of Canada’s richest men and his wife after autopsy results revealed the couple died from “ligature neck compression.”
The bodies of Barry Sherman, 75, and his wife Honey, 70, were found shortly before noon Friday after emergency services were called to their mansion in the upscale North York neighbourhood regarding a “medical complaint.”
Police released the autopsy results Sunday evening. The couple died of “ligature neck compression,” or strangulation.
The statement said there were no signs of forced entry into the home and that police were not seeking any suspects.
Several media outlets earlier reported via unnamed police sources that investigators were looking into a possible murder-suicide. The claims were swiftly denied by the Sherman family.
“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 Shermans’ four children said Saturday.
“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,” their statement added.
Linda Frum, a longtime friend of the couple and Canadian senator, told The New York Times: “There is absolutely zero debate in my mind, this was a double homicide.”
According to Shermans’ friends contacted by The Globe and Mail newspaper, the couple were making holiday plans just days before their death.
Friends described Honey Sherman as warm, genuine and someone who loved to socialize. Barry Sherman had a reputation as a workaholic, having built his company from scratch to become the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company.
Sherman, the founder of generic drug company Apotex, 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.
“Dr. Sherman gave his life to the singular purpose of our organization – innovating for patient affordability,” said a commemoration on the company’s website.
“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.”
The Shermans were well-known for their philanthropic endeavors.
The Apotex Foundation, a privately held charitable organization, has donated more than 50 million Canadian dollars (38.9 million US dollars) over the last ten years, the company said.
Fred Waks, a real estate developer and close friend of the Shermans, told The Toronto Star newspaper that Apotex was involved in multibillion dollar lawsuits.
“When you are dealing with the size of that industry and the amounts we are talking about, you make enemies,” the newspaper quoted Waks as saying.
“And you make enemies on a global basis.”
Sherman also faced legal action from family members alleging they had been cut out of the company over the years.