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Tragic Passing of Canadian Billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman (Apotex)

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Honey and Barry Sherman

Honey and Barry Sherman

One of the biggest shocks of 2017 was news of the deaths of Barry Sherman and his wife, Honey Sherman. They were discovered dead at their home on December 15, 2017. Police issued a brief statement saying that the couple both died from "ligature neck compression," but the department refused to comment further. The statement said homicide detectives have taken the lead on investigating the deaths, which have been classified as "suspicious."

About the Shermans

Barry (born Bernard) Sherman founded Apotex, a Canadian pharmaceutical corporation, in 1974. The company is the largest producer of generic drugs in Canada, with sales exceeding C$1 billion a year.

Apotex says that Mr. Sherman hadn’t been involved in day-to-day operations since he stepped down as chief executive officer in 2012.

With an estimated net worth of US$3.2 billion at the time of his death, according to Forbes, Sherman was the 12th-wealthiest Canadian. Another publication, Canadian Business, stated his fortune at $4.77 billion (CAD), ranking him the 15th richest in Canada.

A Wall Street Journal article describes the personality of the couple.

Barry Sherman was stiff in social settings and suffered from what he called chronic lethargy and fatigue. He wrote in a memoir that life had no meaning or purpose. When Barry was 10, his father died of a heart attack. “I do not recall feeling any great sense of loss upon my father’s death,” he wrote.

“He would correct your grammar no matter who you were,” Jack Kay, a colleague, said at a memorial service. “He pretty well thought he was smarter than everyone else, and he wasn’t wrong about that.”

Unlike her husband, Honey Sherman was known for her sunny disposition. She helped steer the couple’s social and philanthropic activities.

Multiple Investigations

Despite an ongoing Toronto police investigation into the deaths, the couple’s family hired a former homicide detective to look into the case. Citing police sources, multiple media outlets reported that investigators were working on the theory that the Shermans died in a murder-suicide. The couple’s family rejected that theory and hired their own private investigator to look into the case.

Brian Greenspan, the family’s lawyer, confirmed that former Toronto police detective Thomas Klatt was hired to conduct a separate investigation. Mr. Greenspan said the Toronto Police Service’s early statements about the case invited the public to wrongly infer that the couple’s deaths were the result of a murder-suicide.

The Discovery of the Bodies

The real estate agent who had been helping to sell the mansion found the bodies. The Shermans had just put their house on Old Colony Road up for sale for $6.9 million.

A Toronto police source said the bodies were found at the edge of their basement pool, hanging from a railing that surrounded the pool. Investigators are working on the theory that Mr. Sherman killed his wife, hung her body and then hanged himself at the pool's edge, the source said.

Police, firefighters and paramedics responded to a 911 call for a medical emergency at 11:44 a.m., Constable Hopkinson said. But he would not say who made the call. He said the pair were pronounced dead at the scene.

There was no sign of forced entry to the home. There was no note left behind to explain what had happened.

Memorial Service and Posthumous Awards

Organizers estimated 6,000 people attended the December 21st memorial service at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory were also among those gathered.

Canadian Gov. Gen. Julie Payette has announced that Dr. Sherman has been appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. He is awarded the distinction for "his entrepreneurship in the pharmaceutical industry and for his unwavering support and commitment to education and charitable causes."

The Order of Canada advisory council, which decides who gets the award, granted it to him at their November meeting. Payette signed the appointment prior to his death.

A Rideau Hall spokeswoman says a family member can stand in for Sherman at the investiture ceremony, likely some time in 2018.

Updates on the Investigation

It’s double murder, not murder-suicide. Barry and Honey Sherman were killed in what looks like a professional, contract killing. That’s the conclusion of a variety of experts who were hired by the family to probe the case.

There were markings on the Shermans’ wrists, an indication that at some point their hands were tied together, though no rope or other ties were found near the bodies. Toxicology tests on their bodies revealed no sign of drugs that would have contributed to their deaths. Men’s leather belts found around their necks were the cause of the “ligature compression” that killed them. A top forensic pathologist who did a second autopsy determined this was a double homicide, barring any new information that surfaces.

Meanwhile, the Toronto police would not provide any new information or comment on the findings of the family and maintain their classification of the deaths as “suspicious.”

People providing information for this story are not identified as they were not authorized to discuss the case.

Police News Conference

In a news conference on January 26, 2018 Toronto police announced they are investigating the deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman as a targeted double homicide.

Toronto Police Det.-Sgt. Susan Gomes, the officer in charge of the case, updated reporters in a short briefing.

“We believe now, through six weeks’ work and review, that 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.

A realtor’s “lock box,” which gave access to agents and their clients viewing Barry and Honey Sherman’s house, has expanded the pool of “persons of interest” in what is now officially a double murder investigation.

In answering a reporter’s question, she confirmed that “we have that list” of anyone who gained entry to the Old Colony Road home in North Toronto, which was for sale, via the lock box.

Barry Sherman Allegedly Duped by Convicted Fraudster

On the day he was last seen alive, Barry Sherman's lawyers filed documents in court supporting a lawsuit against a convicted fraudster who had allegedly duped the billionaire philanthropist out of a $150,000 investment, Canadian television newsmagazine CBC News: The Fifth Estate has learned.

Ontario Superior Court documents show Sherman intended to invest in an app called Trivia For Good, which described itself as a "mobile-trivia app that offers huge cash prizes."

Sherman launched his lawsuit in May 2017 against Shaun Rootenberg and other parties. The lawsuit alleged "a fraudulent scheme" had cheated Sherman out of his investment.

Court documents show that Rootenberg, a previously convicted fraudster also known as Shaun Rothberg, came up with the Trivia For Good concept. The idea was to make money by selling advertising displayed on the app.

Sherman was well known for being litigious in his business dealings. The Rootenberg lawsuit was one of hundreds the billionaire or Apotex had filed in the course of his business career.

It was in the final week of his life that Sherman stepped up his legal efforts to recover the $150,000 he said he had lost, a relatively small amount for a man reportedly worth nearly $5 billion. Still, on Dec. 13 his lawyers filed an aggressive motion to the court — with the goal of moving the case more promptly to trial.

Emails filed in court show Sherman was introduced to the investment opportunity through his longtime friend Myron Gottlieb.

Those emails show correspondence between Sherman's holding company, Sherfam Inc., Gottlieb and Shaun Rootenberg.

Gottlieb emailed officials at Sherfam Inc. in August 2015 to thank them for the promised $150,000 investment.

"You advised that Barry Sherman will purchase 750,000 units," Gottlieb wrote on Aug. 19, 2015.

Gottlieb then provided instructions for how Sherman's $150,000 should be wired to the trivia company's bank account. But according to the allegations filed in court, Rootenberg was a participant in a scheme "to defraud" Sherman and divert the funds partly for his own benefit.

According to the court documents, Gottlieb, who is not named in the Sherman lawsuit, met Rootenberg in 2012 when they were both serving time in prison for fraud.

Gottlieb was convicted along with Livent co-founder Garth Drabinsky in 2009 for defrauding their now-defunct musical production company Livent Inc.

In an email to The Fifth Estate, Gottlieb noted, "I am not a party to the action commenced by Barry Sherman." He declined further comment except to say he was "privileged to be a friend of Barry and Honey Sherman."

Rootenberg was arrested again June 2017 on criminal charges. Toronto Police allege Rootenberg defrauded two women with whom he had intimate relationships. The Fifth Estate has learned that Barry Sherman provided a statement to police in the criminal case against Rootenberg.

Rootenberg was held at Toronto South Detention Centre after his arrest. He was released on bail earlier in January 2018. CBC News: The Fifth Estate was unable to reach Rootenberg for comment after leaving an email and phone message.

In his statement of defence filed in October 2017, Rootenberg said he "disputes the claim … that he contributed to the loss" and requested that the lawsuit be "dismissed in its entirety."

Barry Sherman’s cousin makes explosive allegations

A cousin of Barry Sherman, who recently lost a $1-billion court battle with the late billionaire, says he believes Sherman killed his wife and then himself, alleging that he was asked by Sherman twice in the 1990s to make arrangements to kill his wife Honey.

Kerry Winter made the explosive allegations in two separate interviews with the Toronto Star and the Daily Mail TV of the UK.

Winter, along with his siblings, has been locked in a prolonged court battle with Sherman over their late father’s former company. He says the founder of generic drug giant Apotex had a “loose bolt” and hated his wife but did not want her to take half his money in a divorce.

“There was a time I met Barry in his office and out of the blue he said, ‘You know, sometimes I want to kill that bitch.’ And he says, ‘Can you do it?’” Winter told Daily Mail TV.

“And I said, ‘Oh come on Barry, you’re not going to take out the mother of your kids.’ He says, ‘Why not?’ And he was dead serious.”

Winter, who admits to drug use and association with a bad crowd at that time but says he is now clean, claims he called a friend about Sherman’s request.

“And he said, ‘The body will go missing. There’s not going to be a bullet to the back of the head or a car exploding. She’s going to go missing.’…. if we push this button, there’s no going back.’”

Winter alleges Sherman backed off on his plan and when asked by the Star if he believed the comments Sherman allegedly made in the 90’s about this wife held true in 2017, he said, “They could have kissed and made up.”

But he still thinks that Sherman finally did kill his wife and then “freaked out.”

Sherman had been battling Winter and his siblings over a drug company he bought and sold that had been founded by his uncle. The cousins argued they were entitled to almost $1 billion in compensation but a judge ruled against them in September, later ordering the plaintiffs to pay Sherman $300,000 in legal costs. The siblings were appealing the ruling.

Read more https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2018/01/31/cousins-were-ordered-to-pay-sherman-300000-the-week-before-they-were-found-dead.html

A year later, police still struggling to solve deaths of Honey and Barry Sherman

December 2018

Almost a year after billionaire couple Honey and Barry Sherman were found dead in their Toronto mansion, police are still struggling to solve the mystery.

The family put together a team of highly experienced former homicide detectives and forensic experts to launch their own parallel investigation. The Shermans' four children have remained virtually silent about the case, declining all interview requests.

In October 2018, the team announced a reward of up to $10 million for information that would help solve the mystery.

Toronto lawyer Brian Greenspan, who is leading the team of private investigators, called the killings "deliberate" and that the bodies were "staged" in an attempt to fool police.

Greenspan also accused police of mishandling the investigation by overlooking about 25 palm prints and fingerprints the private investigators found in the home.

"The failure to follow simple procedures regarding print elimination fell below the best-practice standards," he said.

The lawyer also complained police took too long to interview some of the people who were in the home when the bodies were discovered.

Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders shot back, suggesting Greenspan is in no position to know what evidence police have collected.

"If you have an opinion on it, you're entitled to that opinion," Saunders said of Greenspan. "We don't deal with opinions. We deal with facts."

Read more https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/honey-barry-sherman-murder-first-anniversary-1.4945270

Barry and Honey Sherman’s neighbours cite mysterious 911 call, visitor on day before billionaires found dead

May 2019

Toronto Police were investigating a mysterious 911 call down the street from Barry and Honey Sherman's home at the same time as the Apotex founder and his wife lay dead or dying, a Star investigation reveals.

The Shermans lived at 50 Old Colony Rd. They were last seen alive on the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Their bodies were discovered two days later. No official time of death has been released but sources close to the case have said it is believed the Shermans died late on Wednesday or early Thursday morning. Police are investigating the case as a targeted double homicide.

On the Thursday morning at 9:45 a.m., a full day before the Sherman bodies were discovered, homeowners down the road from the Shermans answered a knock on their door. The Star has agreed not to identify the homeowners or their exact address. They live roughly 10 houses away on Old Colony.

The man at the door was a uniformed police officer asking if someone in their home had made a 911 call. The homeowners said no. The officer shared few details, but said police believed it came from the homeowners' house, but did not say if the call had come from a cellular phone or a landline. The officer did not say what time the call came in.

The next day, when news surfaced late in the afternoon of the Shermans' bodies being discovered, one of the homeowners happened to be driving near Toronto Police Services 33 Division (the local division that was at the time investigating the Shermans' deaths before the homicide unit took over). The homeowner went in to make a report, wanting to alert them to the fact a police officer had been on Old Colony Rd. the day before.

"It was just too much of a coincidence and I thought police should know," the homeowner told the Star. That Friday night at the police division, the homeowner was told by police that "maybe some wires were crossed" and that is why it appeared a 911 call had been made.

https://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/news-story/9362006-barry-and-honey-sherman-s-neighbours-cite-mysterious-911-call-visitor-on-day-before-billionaires-found-dead/

Barry and Honey Sherman’s bodies were found posed like the sculptures in their basement

December 12, 2019

The positioning of the bodies of murder victims Barry and Honey Sherman was eerily similar to a tableau of two life-sized, human-shaped art figures in a basement room near the crime scene in the billionaire couple’s Toronto home.

The Sherman bodies and the two art figures owned by the Shermans were in a seated position, and both Barry Sherman and the male art figure had one leg crossed over the other.

This is one of several new pieces of information the Star has recently uncovered in its ongoing investigation of a case that marks its second anniversary on Dec. 15.

Among the others: the revelation that a window was open and a door unlocked when police arrived at the Sherman home; the precise location of Barry’s gloves and papers and Honey’s cellphone in the house, which are significant because they may indicate where each was attacked; and the potential disruption of evidence in the home because police did not properly secure the scene.

Toronto police have said they can’t answer any questions posed by the media related to this case. However, as part of a court process in which a Star reporter has been allowed to question one of the Sherman detectives, the detective has said the homicide squad has a working theory of the case and “an idea of what happened,” and police are “cautiously optimistic” that the probe is progressing toward a resolution.

The Star has recently learned more details about what transpired in December 2017 at 50 Old Colony Rd., the house that the billionaire founder of generic drug maker Apotex and his wife built in the 1980s and were trying to sell at the time of their deaths. The house was torn down earlier this year at the request of the Shermans’ children.

Barry and Honey’s lifeless bodies were discovered by realtors and clients who were touring the house on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017. The couple was last seen alive on the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 13. Initially thought by police to be a murder-suicide, their deaths were later determined to be a “targeted” double homicide, according to Det. Sgt. Susan Gomes, who was then the lead detective on the case.

Their bodies were found in what Gomes told news conference was a “semi-seated position.” Belts around their necks were attached to a low railing at one end of their basement swimming pool, holding them upright. Brian Greenspan, one of the lawyers working for the Sherman family, has said publicly that the Shermans were found seated side by side, and that one of Barry’s legs was “crossed over the other.” People who saw the bodies in the pool room that Friday have confirmed this to the Star. One of those people said the bodies were not seated in a 90-degree position but tipped back slightly, with the belts around their necks holding them from falling backward into the pool.

This arrangement has puzzled police and private investigators, as well as friends and family of the Shermans. A member of the private investigation team has referred to the positioning as “staged.” The Star has found an eerie similarity to the sculptures seated in a room at the other end of the basement.

The sculptures in question were made in the 1970s by self-described “junk sculptor” Leo Sewell. According to Sewell’s website, the Philadelphia man grew up near a dump and creates art from discarded materials chosen “for their colour, shape, texture, durability and patina.” Sewell’s art shapes have included human figures and animals.

The two sculptures that found their way into the Sherman hands were originally displayed in the Eaton’s store at College and Yonge streets, which closed in 1977 when the Toronto Eaton Centre opened. Friends of the Shermans purchased the sculptures and kept them in their Toronto home; when they moved to the U.S., Honey asked if she could have the sculptures. The art pieces moved houses with the Shermans and eventually, when the house on Old Colony Road was built in 1985, became a feature of the 12,000-square-foot home.

The figures are male and female. The male sculpture’s left leg is crossed over its right leg. One of the Sherman children described the sculptures to the Star as “creepy,” adding, “We all hated those things.” A regular visitor to the home recently used the same word — “creepy” — to describe the figures.

Sewell told the Star that he created the sculptures in a seated position, and that the arms and legs were not movable. Shown a photo of the sculptures in the Sherman’s basement room, Sewell said they “need repair” but otherwise appeared to be as they were when he constructed them in the 1970s.

The last known photo of the sculptures — other than photos police presumably took as part of their six-week analysis of the house after the bodies were discovered — was taken during preparations for putting the Shermans’ house on the market. The photos show the two sculptures “sitting” on two big speaker units in a “hobby room” in the basement at the front of the house. The pool room where the Shermans’ bodies were found was at the other end of the basement, separated by the garage and a rec room.

The real estate photos were part of the online package of pictures displaying the Sherman home. The photos went online in late November, three weeks before the bodies were found.

There are similarities and differences in the positioning of the Sherman bodies and the sculptures.

Both are seated, with the male sculpture and Barry Sherman seated on the left of the female sculpture and Honey Sherman, respectively.

In the case of the male sculpture and Barry Sherman, both had one leg crossed over the other. The sculpture’s left leg was crossed over the right. Neither the police nor the family’s private investigation team have publicly said which of Barry’s legs was crossed over the other, but a Sherman private investigation source told the Star a year ago that his right leg was crossed over his left. In the case of the female sculpture and Honey Sherman, the female sculpture had one leg crossed, whereas Honey’s legs were in front of her and uncrossed.

The Shermans’s bodies were found seated on the floor, with their legs in front of them. The sculptures were seated on raised speakers, and had their legs dangling, as if on a chair, which is how they were constructed — the legs were fixed and could not be extended. The female sculpture’s arms were at its side, the same as the way Honey was found. Barry’s arms were by his side, pulled back slightly by the sleeves of his bomber jacket, while the male sculpture had its hands resting on the crossed leg.

The Star investigation has also learned:

• When homicide officers took over the case, they said there were no signs of forced entry at the home. However, a window in a basement room was found open, and had routinely been left open to air out the smell of new paint applied to the walls to mask previous water damage.

A door leading outside from the basement to the patio was also found unlocked when the Shermans’ real estate agent toured another agent and a couple interested in buying the house through the home on the morning the bodies were discovered. Family and friends say the Shermans were in the habit of leaving doors unlocked, so this would not have been unusual. The basement door exits to stairs that led up to a patio on the west side of the house. An intruder who knew the layout, and knew the door was unlocked, could have entered and left the house through a neighbours yard without being seen.

• Personal items belonging to Barry and Honey were found in locations that may shed light on events immediately prior to their deaths.

During the Friday morning real estate tour that led to the discovery of the bodies, Honey’s iPhone was found in a powder room that friends say she never used, at the front of the house. Sources close to the private investigation have speculated that Honey came home on Wednesday evening, entered through the side door as she normally did, was surprised by an attacker and ran to the powder room.

Also discovered during the real estate tour was a thick sheaf of papers — the home inspection report for 50 Old Colony Rd. — and Barry’s leather gloves. Those items were found immediately inside the door that led from the basement garage. Insiders have told the Star that Barry had the paper copy of the inspection report at his office, and had said he would bring it home. The inspection report was found on the tiled floor of the hallway, with Barry’s gloves on top of it. Not realizing they were in a crime scene, the realtor picked up the report and gloves and placed them on a knee-high ledge that ran along the hallway.

• Entering the vestibule outside the pool, with the clients and the other realtor in tow, the realtor made the grisly discovery. Of note, most of the basement lights were off when the realtors and clients had made their way downstairs. Also, the main lights were off in the pool room, although there was a glow in the room because the underwater lights of the pool were on.

Seeing the strange tableau in the pool room, the realtor moved the clients and the other realtor back upstairs. After the clients and their realtor left, the realtor told the housekeeper and a woman watering plants what she had seen. The glimpse the realtor had was so fleeting that at first she wondered if the Shermans were doing a form of meditation. The woman watering the plants volunteered to check. She came back up and reported to the realtor that the Shermans were dead. The Shermans’ realtor then called Honey’s sister, Mary Shechtman, who was in Florida and had been trying to reach Honey that morning. The realtor then called police.

• Police officers arrived at the house along with paramedics at about 11:45 a.m. After confirming that the Shermans were dead, they set about securing the witnesses at the scene.

Present in the house were the Shermans’ realtor, the housekeeper and the woman who tended and watered the Shermans’ plants. Each was placed in a separate room, according to insiders, and they were not allowed to speak to anyone before being taken to a police station for formal interviews.

The housekeeper, left to her own devices in a room near the front hallway, did what came naturally to her — she took her mop and continued cleaning the floors. Eventually, an officer told her to stop, so as not to contaminate the crime scene.

https://www.toronto.com/news-story/9772948-barry-and-honey-sherman-s-bodies-were-found-posed-like-the-sculptures-in-their-basement/

Source reveals Honey Sherman updated her will shortly before billionaire couple's murder

December 15, 2019

Another piece of information has come to light in the unsolved murder of billionaire couple Barry and Honey Sherman, who were killed in their Toronto mansion two years ago.

According to the Toronto Star, a confidant of Honey told police detectives that Honey had made changes to her will three weeks before her and her husband were murdered.

Friends and family were unable to find a will belonging to Honey after the couple were found dead in their home in December 2017.

Little information has been made public about the two-year investigation and information surrounding the Sherman estate is sealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

https://www.citynews1130.com/2019/12/15/source-reveals-honey-sherman-updated-her-will-shortly-before-billionaire-couples-murder/

Sherman murders: Private investigation concludes, Toronto police ask for help with new tip line

December 16, 2019

The private investigation into the murders of billionaire couple Barry and Honey Sherman launched by their family has concluded but Toronto police are still asking for the public’s help with a new tip line.

Insp. Hank Idsinga with the homicide squad told reporters Monday that Toronto police have received 205 tips and that the private investigator team hired by the Sherman’s received 343 tips.

“The family and the police urge anyone who has reliable information regarding the murders, no matter how small or unimportant that information may seem, to contact the police,” Idsinga said.

The press conference comes shortly after after the two-year anniversary of their deaths. Both Barry and Honey were found inside their Toronto home on Old Colony Road near Bayview Avenue and Highway 401 just before 11:45 a.m. on Dec. 15, 2017.

Police have also set up a direct email address for the case. Tips can be provided at shermantips@torontopolice.on.ca or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477.

In October 2018, the Sherman family put up a $10-million reward for any major tips that would crack the unsolved case. The family is still offering the reward, Idsinga said.

“That reward is still outstanding. And all we are doing now is moving the responsibility of collecting the information back to the police service where it should belong,” Idsinga said. “At the end of the day it’s still the Sherman’s responsibility to decide what they want to do with that tip money.”

Police are also asking those who submitted tips to the private investigator team to re-submit them to Toronto police as they are now solely in charge of the investigation.

Investigators said Barry and Honey were found dead in the lower-level pool area, reportedly hanging by belts from a railing on the pool deck and wearing their clothing. A post-mortem examination determined the Shermans died of “ligature neck compression.” It was also determined that the couple likely died two days before they were found on Dec. 13, 2017.

Police ruled the deaths of the billionaire couple a double homicide.

Idsinga said 150 items have been submitted to the Centre of Forensic Science for testing, 243 witnesses have been interviewed, and four terabytes of security video have been obtained.

Idsinga added that solving the case has been a priority for the police and said that although it’s been two years, other cases have been be solved years later.

“There’s lots of speculation and there’s lots of theories. We’re still combing through a lot of information,” Idsinga said.

The Sherman family was not in attendance.

https://globalnews.ca/news/6300850/barry-honey-sherman-statement-toronto-police-dec-2019/

Further Reading

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

Comments

RTalloni on December 29, 2017:

How sad. Hopefully the family will have the answers they seek before long.