On Friday, a Toronto billionaire Jewish couple that was famous for giving charity were found dead, hung by their indoor pool, and while police reportedly initially considered the case a murder-suicide, friends and family of the couple insist that the case is a double homicide.
Barry Sherman, 75, was a brilliant scientist who co-founded Apotex in 1974 with two employees and built it into a business with over 6,000 employees in Canada alone. His wife Honey, who was born in a displaced persons camp to two Holocaust victims, not only spent enormous time volunteering, but also exhibited the same kind of non-pretentiousness he did — they flew economy; he drove a beat-up old car, and their house was not as expansive as others on their block. As The New York Times noted, “The couple gave hundreds of millions of dollars to hospitals, universities, political parties and charities.”
After the couple’s real-estate agent found their bodies by the pool on Friday, Toronto police announced that “the cause of death for both deceased was ligature neck compression.” The police said there were no signs of forced entry and no suspects at large. The Star reported that the police thought the deaths might be a murder-suicide, but that was hotly disputed by family and friends of the Shermans.
Although Constable David Hopkinson said at a news conference, “The circumstances of their death appear suspicious, and we are treating it that way,” acknowledging there were no signs of forced entry at the Shermans’ home, the police’s news release on Sunday would not call the deaths a homicide, only say there were “two suspicious deaths.”
The family issued a statement reading:
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. We urge the Toronto Police Service to conduct a thorough, intensive and objective criminal investigation, and urge the media to refrain from further reporting as to the cause of these tragic deaths until the investigation is completed.
Linda Frum, a senator in the Canadian Parliament who was a devoted friend of the Shermans, commented, “There is absolutely zero debate in my mind, this was a double homicide. This idea that Barry would ever harm Honey — he adored her. That’s impossible. He was a gentle, good man.”
Another close friend, Fred Waks, a real estate developer, added, “Barry was involved in big pharmacy on a worldwide basis. His lawsuits pertained to billions of dollars, back and forth. When you are dealing with the size of that industry and the amounts we are talking about, you make enemies. And you make enemies on a global basis.”
The New York Times offered some evidence that might be used to buttress the claims of the Shermans having enemies, writing, “Mr. Sherman was often in the news for his company’s voluminous lawsuits, aimed at opening the market to his generic versions of drugs, and its ‘at-risk launches’ of generic drugs, flooding the market before litigation concluded.”
In October , Mayor John Tory of Toronto asked Mr. Sherman if he had plans to retire; Tory said, “He said not really. He just loved his work.” Additionally, the Shermans were building a new home, getting ready for their daughter’s wedding, and about to leave for a long vacation in Florida.