The family of slain billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman is offering a reward of up to $10 million for for information that leads to the arrest of a suspect in the case.
The couple were found dead in the pool room of their north Toronto mansion in December 2017.
Brian Greenspan, the lawyer representing the family, announced the award on Oct. 26. He also announced the launch of a call centre to handle tips regarding the case, and a panel of criminal and forensic experts to assess the legitimacy and value of the tips.
The tip line will be staffed daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and the panel includes Matthew Torigian, former Waterloo Region Chief of Police and Frank Addario, who Greenspan hailed as “one of the leading criminal defense lawyers in Canada.
The team will also include a professor from the University of Toronto’s forensic psychology department, and Greenspan has invited Toronto Chief of Police Mark Saunders to appoint someone from the force to round it out.
While he insisted the family only wants to help the police further the investigation, Greenspan criticized the force’s handing of the investigation both immediately following the Shermans’ deaths and in the year since.
The Toronto Police Service classified the Shermans’ death as a targeted double homicide in January but haven’t provided any updates to on their investigation since then.
“We’re trying to light the fire. That’s part of the reason why we’ve gathered today to both present the incentive to the public to come forward with any information that they may have…but also to light the fire under the Toronto Police Service.”
Greenspan listed the ways in which he believes the force mishandled the early stages of the investigation, which include not vacuuming the floors of the home for traces of evidence, not adequately inspecting entrances into the home and failing to notice 25 sets of palm and fingerprint impressions that private investigators later found.
Anyone with information about the murders of Honey and Barry Sherman can call an official toll-free tip line at 1-833-668-0001
“Police are required by law to maintain a certain professional standard,” he said. “The manner in which the Toronto Police Service conducted itself fell well below the standard of how a reasonable officer in these circumstances should act.”
Their oversights, Greenspan said, led police to announce last December that there were no signs of forced entry into the home, and therefore, they were not searching for any suspects.
The Shermans’s family was so upset by early reports that police were working with a murder-suicide theory that they hired Greenspan and a team of private investigators to conduct their own investigation.
“For the family, the most perplexing and upsetting aspect of the police investigation was the failure to observe the obvious,” Greenspan said. He did not an update about the progress of his team’s investigation.
Here is what we know about the Sherman murders, including a new account of the crime scene by the real estate agent who stumbled upon it.
The Shermans were embroiled in a family feud
Barry Sherman had fought and won a drawn-out legal battle with his cousins — the orphaned children of the uncle who gave him his start in the pharmaceutical industry.
Following Louis Winter’s death, his four sons made a legal challenge claiming Sherman owed them a substantial stake in Apotex, since Sherman had bought their father’s drug venture, Empire Companies, in the 1960s. Three months before the Shermans’ deaths, a judge dismissed the case as frivolous.
Barry Sherman might have had enemies in Big Pharma
As Frank reported days after the murders, Barry Sherman owned drug company Apotex and made his fortune reverse-engineering patented drugs and putting his cheaper, generic versions on the market. In 2008 Toronto Life reported that the company could be engaged in 100 court cases with brand name drug companies at any given time.
A private autopsy debunked the Toronto Police Service’s murder-suicide theory
Early in their investigation, The Toronto Star reports, police had not ruled out the theory that Barry Sherman strangled his wife and then committed suicide. They were found handing by their necks from a railing near the pool.
However, a private autopsy conducted as part of the family’s investigation found that both Shermans been bound at the wrists at some point during the attack, although their wrists were free when their bodies were discovered.
Since no pieces of a ligature or rope were found at the scene, investigators concluded the culprit — or, more likely, culprits — must have taken them when they left, meaning Barry couldn’t have done it himself.
On Jan. 26, police announced they were treating the case as a double homicide.
“We believe now, through the six weeks of work review, we have sufficient evidence to describe this as a double homicide investigation, and that Honey and Barry Sherman were, in fact, targeted,” Toronto Police Det. Sgt. Susan Gomes said during a media event that day.
A real estate agent and his clients were likely the first to see the bodies
CBC reports a real estate agent was showing the Shermans’ home — which was on the market for $6.7 million — to two prospective buyers when the trio looked into the pool room and stumbled upon the crime scene on Dec. 15, 2017.
However the agent, who asked not to be named, claims they thought it was a hoax, and left without reporting it to police. He told CBC the clients, who are from mainland China and are superstitious, were angry when they realized what they had witnessed, fearing it was a bad omen.
The Toronto Star reports that an employee of the couple’s own real estate agent was present when the visiting agent and his clients found the bodies, but that it was a housekeeper who called 911.