Suicide or murder? Self-made billionaire Sherman, Holocaust survivor wife Honey deaths shock many

Canadian billionaire couple Barry and Honey Sherman deaths leave behind many unanswered questions

Barry and Honey Sherman
Barry and Honey Sherman Reuters

Canadian billionaire couple Barry and Honey Sherman had been found dead at their Toronto residence on Friday. The police had been investigating the case as a murder-suicide amidst widespread shock and indignation among people who knew them.

The Toronto police said in a statement on Sunday night that the 75-year-old man and his 70-year-old wife had died from "ligature neck compression", which is caused by binding or tying something around the neck. "That is what the post-mortem indicates and that is the terminology that they give us," said Const. Michael Flannery.

The two dead bodies were discovered by their estate agent, who was in charge of selling the property. They were found hanging from a railing surrounding their basement lap pool. No sign of forced entry was detected. The police have ruled the deaths as "suspicious" and turned over the investigation to the homicide department.

When alive, the couple was among the biggest philanthropists of Canada, having donated millions to charity. People who were close to them have stated how fond they were of life and how kind they were to the community. A family statement has asked for a "thorough, intensive and objective criminal investigation" as they refuse to believe Barry killed his wife and then hanged himself, which was the initial speculation about the crime.

A police forensics photographer outside Sherman resident
A police forensics photographer works outside the home of billionaire Barry Sherman Reuters

Barry Sherman

Barry Sherman, the founder of pharmaceutical company Apotex, was a self-made man who started working in his uncle's company Empire Laboratories while still in university. He started his own company after his uncle's death in 1974 with only two employees. Now, it is the largest drug company in Canada and has more than 11,000 employees.

Sherman's net worth is $4.77 billion and he was the 15th richest person in the country, according to a recent assessment by a business magazine. He was a part of the board of many organisations, like the New York University Foundation and Simon Wiesenthal Center.

He has had his own share of legal problems, with his children filing a lawsuit for Apotex's stake and a controversy regarding a fundraiser for Justin Trudeau's election as prime minister. However, he is still known as one of the most generous, charitable and family-oriented persons in Toronto.

Barry and Honey Sherman murder
Flowers from mourners are seen outside the home of billionaire founder of Canadian pharmaceutical firm Barry Sherman Reuters

Honey Sherman

The billionaire's wife Honey Sherman has her own story of struggle. Reportedly, she immigrated to Canada as a child after her family was relocated by the Jewish Immigrant Aid Services soon after the Holocaust. She has been a board member of several Jewish foundations and was also awarded a Senate medal for community service in November.

Honey had been involved in social work with several hospitals, universities and other social institutions. The couple also had buildings named after them because of their philanthropic work.

Several eminent people have expressed their shock and grief over the death of such a selfless couple. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted after the news broke out, conveying "condolences to their family & friends, and to everyone touched by their vision & spirit."