Homicide Police Probe Deaths of Canadian Billionaire and Wife

Updated on
  • Toronto police homicide unit takes over Sherman investigation
  • Apotex founder, wife, found dead in Toronto home on Friday
Barry Sherman in 2006. Photographer: Lisa Rapaport/Bloomberg

The Toronto police homicide unit has taken over the investigation in the deaths of billionaire executive Bernard “Barry” Sherman and his wife, who were found dead in their Toronto home Friday to the shock of business and political leaders across Canada.

The post-mortem examination found that both deaths were caused by “ligature neck compression,” signaling a type of strangulation. Toronto’s homicide unit won’t be doing press updates anytime soon as they’re focused on determining whether one or both deaths were in fact homicides, Toronto police constable Caroline de Kloet said in a phone interview Monday.

The bodies of the 75-year-old founder of Apotex Pharmaceutical Holdings Inc. and his wife, Honey Sherman, 70, were found in their home in the Toronto neighborhood of North York under what police called “suspicious” circumstances. Police have said they aren’t looking for any suspects in the case, and media reports over the weekend indicated there was no sign of forced entry into the home.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other major political figures praised the couple’s legacy as news of their deaths spread Friday. “Our condolences to their family & friends, and to everyone touched by their vision & spirit,” Trudeau wrote on Twitter.

Family Statement

The Shermans’ family lashed out at police and media following several reports on the weekend speculating on the cause of the death for the couple, who were known for their philanthropic support for Toronto area hospitals and universities, among other causes.

“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,” according to the statement. “We urge the Toronto Police Service to conduct a thorough, intensive and objective criminal investigation.”

Apotex, in its own statement on Saturday, hailed Sherman’s role in leading the company to become one of the world’s largest generic-drug makers, employing some 11,000 people including more than 6,000 in Canada. “Patients around the world live healthier and more fulfilled lives thanks to his life’s work,” the statement read.

Sherman, who had a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was chairman of the closely held Toronto-based generic-drug maker and was ranked recently by Forbes as Canada’s 12th-richest person with a net worth of about $3 billion.

The billionaire held a fundraiser for Trudeau in August 2015, shortly before his Liberals won the election, an event that was later reportedly investigated by the country’s lobbying watchdog. The Shermans’ 12,440-square-foot home had recently been placed on the market for almost C$7 million ($5.4 million).

Linda Frum, a Canadian senator who recently awarded a medal to Honey Sherman for community service, was among those paying tribute to someone she described as one of the most beloved members of Canada’s Jewish community.

“I am gutted by the loss of Honey and Barry Sherman. Our community is steeped in grief. I am heartbroken,” she said on Twitter.

— With assistance by Natalie Wong

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