Canadian medical billionaire and his wife were murdered in ‘targeted’ hit, police say
Founder of generic drug maker Apotex and wife found dead in their mansion hanging by belts from a railing around their indoor pool
Canadian pharmaceuticals billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife Honey, who were found hanged at their indoor swimming pool, were murdered, police have confirmed.
Detective Sergeant Susan Gomes said investigators came to the conclusion after six weeks of investigation, but declined to discuss possible motives or suspects.
“We have sufficient evidence to describe this as a double homicide investigation and that both Honey and Barry Sherman were in fact targeted,” Gomes said.
Sherman, the founder of generic drug maker Apotex, and his wife were found dead in their mansion on December 15. Police said then the deaths were suspicious, but that there were no signs of forced entry and they were not looking for suspects.
The day after the bodies were found, prominent media outlets quoted unidentified police officials as saying it appeared to be a murder-suicide. But that theory was never publicly confirmed by authorities and family said that would have been wildly out of character.
Gomes said the two were found hanging by belts from a railing that surrounds their indoor pool. She said they were in a semi-seated position on the pool deck.
She said were last seen alive in the evening hours of Wednesday, December 13, and were not heard from again until their bodies were found late on Friday morning.
Gomes said there are no signs of forced entry at access points of the home. She declined to discuss the evidence, possible motives or suspects.
The couple’s four adult children have hired their own team of investigators and a pathologist, who conducted second autopsies on the Shermans.
Toronto police investigators have scoured the 12,000-square-foot home, hauled away the couple’s cars and even checked the sewers in one of Toronto’s most exclusive neighbourhoods for clues.
Sherman was a fiercely competitive businessman, once musing that a rival might want to kill him.
The 75-year-old tycoon was known for litigiousness and aggressive businesses practises as he developed Apotex, which has a global workforce of about 11,000. He conceded he made enemies in Prescription Games, a 2001 book about the industry.
“The branded drug companies hate us. They have hired private investigators on us all the time,” he said. “The thought once came to my 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.”
Canadian Business magazine recently estimated his worth at C$4.77 billion (US$3.65 billion, HK$28.53 billion), making him the 15th richest person in the country.
As they became wealthy, the couple became known for philanthropy. They gave tens of millions to the United Jewish Appeal, donated to a geriatric hospital in Toronto and sent medicine to disaster zones. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the funeral and Sherman is posthumously due to receive one of the country’s highest civilian honours this year.
Sherman had also raised funds for Trudeau, and had attempted to block an investigation into the funding days before his death.
According to federal court documents, Sherman tried to block subpoenas of two Apotex executives issued by Karen Shepherd, Canada’s commissioner of lobbying, to compel them to speak with investigators.
Shepherd is tasked with ensuring that those who lobby public officials act transparently, are accountable and comply with a code of conduct.
In his lawsuit, Sherman claimed the subpoenas were an “unanchored fishing expedition” and “unconstitutional”.
Friends and family say the couple had been making plans for the future. They had recently listed their home in Toronto for C$6.9 million and they were building a new home in the city.
Police have released the home back to the family.
“For them it’s been difficult to balance their patience with their frustration with us and our investigation – not unlike any other family who have suffered such a sudden and profound loss,” Gomes said. “They have been understanding, cooperative and hopeful that this investigation can give them some answers.”