Health and Science

Billionaire pharma couple were strangled, case being treated as possible homicide, Toronto police say

Key Points
  • Toronto Police said billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife, Honey, died of strangulation and they are now treating the case as a possible homicide.
  • Barry Sherman was the founder and chairman of Apotex, a generic pharmaceutical manufacturer.
  • Sherman has been involved in scores of legal disputes over the years, including a decade-old one involving his cousins and Apotex.
Billionaire pharma couple were strangled, case being treated as possible homicide, Toronto police say

A mega-rich pharmaceutical company founder and his wife died of strangulation, and their demise is being investigated as a possible homicide, police in Canada have said.

Both Barry Sherman, 75, and his wife, Honey, 70, were reportedly found Friday hanging from the railing of a lap swimming pool in their $7 million Toronto home.

Barry Sherman, one of the richest people on the planet, founded the huge generic pharma company Apotex in 1974 and was chairman at the time of his death. The Shermans had four children.

On Sunday, Toronto police said they responded to a 911 call to the couple's residence at 11:44 a.m. Friday, reportedly from a real estate agent who was working for the couple.

Police then found the Shermans dead inside.

Autopsies perfomed on the couple found "the cause of death for both deceased was ligature neck compression," or strangulation with an object such as a rope, police said.

"Toronto Police Service Homicide has taken the lead in this suspicious death investigation," police said.

Constable David Hopkinson said, "The circumstances of their death appear suspicious, and we are treating it that way."

The Toronto Star on Saturday reported that Toronto police then were investigating the possibility that the Shermans died in a murder-suicide. Later that same day, the Shermans' children blasted police for raising that possibility.

"Our parents shared an enthusiasm for life and commitment to their family and community totally inconsistent with the rumours regrettably circulated in the media as to the circumstances surrounding their deaths," a statement issued by the children said.

"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 family said.

The Toronto Globe and Mail noted that Barry Sherman, whose estimated net worth was $4.6 billion, was a "ruthless fighter" in business who was "capable of waging as many as 100 lawsuits at a time against business rivals and spending the past 10 years of his life battling a group of cousins in court."

The cousins were demanding up to $1 billion from Sherman "for allegedly cutting them out of Apotex," the newspaper said.

The lawsuit included allegations that Sherman had plotted to kill one of the cousins, the Globe and Mail said.

Apotex, in a message on the company's website, said "it is with profound sadness that we announce the unexpected passing of our founder, Dr. Bernard C. Sherman, Chairman of the Board of the Apotex Group of Companies, at the age of 75, and his wife Honey Sherman."

The company noted that Sherman started Apotex with just two employees and a 5,000-square-foot office in the 1970s, which since has grown to "more than 11,000 people in research, development, manufacturing, and distribution in facilities around the world."