Homicide investigators sent to home of dead Toronto billionaires
Ben Cousins and Daniel Otis, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Saturday, December 16, 2017 11:13AM EST
Last Updated Saturday, December 16, 2017 10:35PM EST
WARNING: DETAILS OF THE FOLLOWING STORY MAY BE DISTURBING FOR SOME READERS
Homicide investigators have been called to the home of a Toronto billionaire and his wife who were found dead in their mansion.
Barry Sherman and his wife, Honey, were found dead Friday in their upscale home in a case police called “suspicious.” Officers were originally called to the Sherman household north of Toronto around noon Friday for a “medical complaint.”
CTV News has confirmed with officers that the homicide team was sent to investigate the deaths.
Autopsies began on the bodies Saturday morning, according to police. Const. David Hopkinson with the Toronto Police Service told The Canadian Press that the autopsy results could be available later in the day.
Officers said there were no signs of forced entry at the home and that they are not looking for any suspects. Police have said the deaths don’t pose a threat to the public.
Multiple local media outlets, citing police sources, reported Saturday that police are investigating the deaths as a murder-suicide.
Police sources told CTV News that the couple was found hanging in their home. The house was put up for sale a few weeks ago, and a realtor discovered the bodies.
On Saturday afternoon, the Shermans’ family broke their silence to criticize media reports which they said were inconsistent with the couple's "enthusiasm for life and commitment to their family."
“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,” the family said in a written statement released by Apotex.
“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.”
Barry and Honey Sherman were looking forward to the marriage of one of their children planned for next spring.
‘Gutted by the loss’
Sherman founded Apotex in 1974. Today, it is the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company with more than 10,000 employees.
Apotex called the loss of their founder “tragic” in a Friday evening tweet.
"All of us at Apotex are deeply shocked and saddened by this news and our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time," the company said in a statement.
Canadian Business magazine estimated Sherman’s fortune to be worth $4.77 billion, making him the 15th richest Canadian.
Neighbours told CP24 the Shermans were “the pride of the neighbourhood.”
"We are at a loss of words," Sarah Alva, one of the Sherman’s neighbours, said. “They were both the most wonderful people we knew and our hearts goes out to their families.”
“They are the last people you would think something like this would happen to.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also issued his condolences, saying he and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau are “saddened by news of the sudden passing of Barry and Honey Sherman” in a tweet.
Sophie and I are saddened by news of the sudden passing of Barry and Honey Sherman. Our condolences to their family & friends, and to everyone touched by their vision & spirit.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) December 16, 2017
Toronto Mayor John Tory said on Twitter he is “heartbroken” to learn of the deaths.
“I have had the privilege of knowing them both well for many years,” Tory tweeted.
“Barry and Honey were kind, good people who will be greatly missed. The philanthropic and economic contributions they have made to Toronto put them in a class of their own.”
On behalf of all Toronto residents, I want to express my deepest condolences to the Sherman family. I am shocked and heartbroken to learn that Barry and Honey Sherman were found dead in their home today. I have had the privilege of knowing them both well for many years.— John Tory (@JohnTory) December 16, 2017
Canadian Senator Linda Frum presented a medal to the couple two weeks ago.
“Today I am gutted by the loss of Honey and Barry Sherman,” she tweeted. “Our community is steeped in grief. I am heartbroken.”
Two weeks ago it gave me immense joy to present a Senate medal to one of the kindest and most beloved members of Canada’s Jewish community. Today I am gutted by the loss of Honey and Barry Sherman. Our community is steeped in grief. I am heartbroken. pic.twitter.com/B8VANUiNbW— Senator Linda Frum (@LindaFrum) December 15, 2017
Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins expressed his disbelief with what happened on Twitter as well.
“I am beyond words right now,” he tweeted. “(They were) wonderful human beings, incredible philanthropists, great leaders in health care. A very, very sad day. Barry, Honey, rest in peace.”
Former Ontario premier and Toronto MP Bob Rae said that he met the news of the couple’s deaths “with complete shock and disbelief.”
Speaking to CTV News Channel on Saturday, Rae, who knew the Shermans for more than three decades, praised Barry’s business acumen and the couple’s philanthropy.
“And particularly, I want to say about Honey, that she was just a delightful person,” Rae said. “She had a terrific sense of humour. She was irreverent and extremely engaging … All of us who knew her are going to miss her a lot.”
Deeply shocked to learn of the deaths of Honey and Barry Sherman, such remarkable people. Grappling with this terrible news.— Bob Rae (@BobRae48) December 15, 2017
Jewish community mourns ‘irreplaceable leaders’
The Jewish Federations of Canada said the Shermans are “two of the most cherished members of Canada’s Jewish community.”
“Their loss will be felt across Canada,” the organization tweeted. “We grieve for their family (and) friends.”
JFC-UIA is deeply shocked and saddened at the loss of two of the most cherished members of Canada’s Jewish community, Honey & Barry Sherman. Honey has been a dedicated @JFCUIA board member for many years. Their loss will be felt across Canada. We grieve for their family &friends. https://t.co/EwCQHm1RI7— JewishFedsofCanUIA (@jfcuia) December 16, 2017
In a statement, the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of Greater Toronto said that it is saddened by the loss of “two irreplaceable leaders.”
“Honey and Barry were inspiring leaders for UJA Federation, the Jewish community, and Canadian society,” Adam Minsky, the philanthropic organization’s president and CEO, said in the statement.
The couple, who were highly active with the group, were recently honoured when a new Jewish community centre in Toronto was named after them.
“The tragedy of Honey's and Barry's loss is magnified by the pride they felt, and we all shared, just a few weeks ago at the groundbreaking for the completion of the Sherman Campus,” UJA Federation chair Bruce Leboff added in the statement.
Honey Sherman was a board member at York University. The couple helped establish the Sherman Health Science Research Centre in 2010.
Rhonda Lenton, York University president and vice-chancellor, said she is “deeply saddened” by the news in a statement on Friday.
“We mourn the loss of these wonderful members of our community whose friendship, passion for education and philanthropy have had a transformational impact on our students, faculty and staff for many years.”
Deeply saddened to learn the news of the passing of longtime member of our Board of Governors Honey Sherman and her husband, Barry. We mourn the loss of these wonderful members of the #YorkU community: https://t.co/FQBG5jCN7n ~rl— Rhonda L. Lenton (@YorkUPresident) December 16, 2017
The Shermans were active members and donors at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. In a statement, the hospital said they were “deeply saddened and shocked” to hear about the deaths.
“Barry and Honey Sherman’s commitment to community, unwavering philanthropic leadership and heartfelt commitment to making a difference in people’s lives was palpable in every interaction with them,” the hospital said in the statement.
“The impact of their generosity is felt in every area of the hospital.”
Speaking to CTV Toronto, family friend Shaazad Khan said that Barry Sherman saved his mother from being deported out of Canada. Khan said Sherman then helped his mother through school and later hired her at his company.
“One phone call Mr. Sherman made and my mother didn’t have to worry about anything after that,” Khan said. “I’m so grateful for that, because I could have been stuck in a third-world country with a third-world education.”
Khan said that the he owes the world to the couple.
“They have shaped my life and changed my life in ways that I’ll never be able to repay them.”
With a report from CTV Toronto and files from CP24 and The Canadian Press