Police in Toronto were conducting a homicide investigation Monday into the deaths of a Canadian billionaire and his wife after weekend autopsies revealed the couple died of strangulation.
The bodies of Barry Sherman, 75, and his wife Honey, 70, were found Friday in their home north of Toronto. The cause of death for both victims was “ligature neck compression,” police said in a statement.
Ligature neck compression refers to strangulation with a rope, wire or some other object that can be tied.
Barry Sherman founded the Canadian pharmaceutical giant Apotex, a generic drug maker with annual sales of more than $1 billion.
Police have released few details on the circumstances surrounding the deaths. A real estate agent who was helping the couple sell their multi-million dollar mansion found the bodies near an indoor pool, police said.
The deaths shocked the country and set off intense speculation about the tragedy and the couple, passionate philanthropists who donated to universities, hospitals and charities.
Police initially had said there was no sign of forced entry, no danger to the community and no suspect being sought. After rumors of a possible murder-suicide surfaced, the family issued a statement blasting police and demanding a “thorough, intensive and objective” criminal probe.
“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 statement said.
Condolences poured in from across the nation. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed sympathy “to their family and friends, and to everyone touched by their vision and spirit.”
Sherman founded Apotex in 1974 with two employees. In a statement, Apotex said Sherman grew the company from its “humble” roots to become a global pharmaceutical player, employing 6,000 people in 21 sites across Canada.
“Dr. Sherman gave his life to the singular purpose of our organization – innovating for patient affordability,” the statements said. “Patients around the world live healthier and more fulfilled lives thanks to his life’s work.”