TORONTO — Billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife Honey were victims of a targeted double killing, Toronto police said on Friday.
Det. Sgt. Susan Gomes, of the homicide squad, said thousands of hours of investigation have led police to that conclusion in a case that has grabbed public attention both for who the high-profile victims were and the mystery surrounding how they died.
"I believe in the six weeks of evidence that we've obtained that they were targeted," Gomes said. "Honey and Barry Sherman were found deceased in the lower-level pool area, hanging by belts from a poolside railing in a semi-seated position on the pool deck."
Barry Sherman, 75, founder of Canadian pharmaceutical giant Apotex, and Honey Sherman, 70, were dressed when found, police said.
Autopsy results revealed they died by "ligature neck compression," Gomes said. However, it was initially unclear whether the couple died by double-suicide, homicide-suicide, or double-homicide, leading police to initially classify the deaths as "suspicious."
"Facts guide our focus," Gomes said. "Conjecture and speculation have no place."
The couple was last seen alive on the evening of Dec. 13. Police, responding to a 911 call, found the bodies on Dec. 15 in their three-storey north-end home. Since then, investigators have been scouring the house, which was only released Friday morning to the family.
"There are no signs of forced entry on all access points to the home," Gomes said.
Gomes refused to say if anything was taken from the house or confirm reports that marks were found on their wrists.
The Sherman family, upset by initial media reports that the deaths were a murder-suicide, hired their own team of investigators but Gomes said contact with relatives has been consistent and ongoing. She said she understood their concerns about the pace of the highly complex probe.
"For them, it's been difficult to balance their patience with their frustration with us and our investigation, not unlike any other family who has suffered such a sudden and profound loss," Gomes said. "They have been understanding, co-operative and hopeful that this investigation can give them some answers."
In a statement Friday, the couple's children said they had expected confirmation by police of what they had suspected from the start — that their parents were victims of a double killing.
"This conclusion was expressed by the family from the outset and is consistent with the findings of the independent autopsy and investigation," their statement said. "The family continues to support the Toronto police service in their efforts to seek justice for their parents and pursue those responsible for these unspeakable crimes."
Gomes refused to discuss any suspects and gave only vague information about some of the evidence police have gathered or seized from the home, a second Sherman property and Apotex. Items include 2,000 hours of security video from commercial and residential properties.
The detective, who said officers were speaking to a "significant list" of people, appealed to anyone with any information that might help the investigation to come forward.
Sherman was well known for his many legal tangles, a fact Gomes alluded to.
"Legal complexities in some executions have been challenging, given the litigious nature of Barry Sherman's businesses, in particular the search and seizure of electronics in Barry Sherman's workspace at Apotex."
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