Warning: This story contains graphic details that may be disturbing to some
One day after a report revealed that private investigators believe Toronto billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman were both murdered, Toronto police detectives were canvassing the neighbourhood.
Asked whether they are working with a private team of investigators hired by the family, a police officer told CTV’s Peter Akman, “No, we are conducting our own police investigation.”
The Toronto Star reported on Friday night that an investigation by former Toronto homicide detectives and a forensic pathologist concluded, barring any further evidence, that the Sherman deaths were the result of a double homicide.
The Shermans’ bodies were discovered in their mansion located in North York on Dec. 15. Barry Sherman, 75, was the wealthy founder and former CEO of the generic drug company Apotex while his wife Honey Sherman, 70, was a well-known philanthropist involved in numerous charitable endeavors.
In December, Toronto police announced the Shermans died of “ligature neck compression,” but refused to provide further details. Earlier reports by media quoting unnamed police sources said the police were working on the theory of murder-suicide, which the Sherman family publicly disputed soon after.
The Toronto Star’s Chief Investigative Reporter Kevin Donovan told CTV News Channel on Saturday that the private team of investigators conducted a second autopsy and found that Barry and Honey Shermans’ wrists were bound at some point.
However, police have not been able to find any rope or plastic ties at the scene that may have been used to bind them, Donovan said.
“I think that’s one of the most significant pieces of new information. There were no bindings found at the scene, but the autopsy, the post-mortem, showed that there were markings on the wrists,” he explained. “Police were looking for stuff in the sewers and one could imagine they were looking for something like that, rope or plastic ties that may not have made it all the way to the sewer system.”
Additionally, sources said the Shermans’ bodies were found in a seated position, facing away from their indoor pool with men’s leather belts around their necks that were either looped or tied around a low railing in the room, Donovan said. The couple was not hanging, as previous media reports suggested, according to the Toronto Star.
The report also claims that they were found in winter coats pulled down over their shoulders, which may have limited their arm movement.
Donovan also said sources told him that a toxicology analysis conducted by the family’s investigative team revealed that the Shermans tested negative for any drugs that would have contributed to their deaths.
The private investigators believe the murders weren’t the result of a random attack or a home invasion, Donovan said.
“I think what the family would like is for the Toronto police to give an update in front of the camera and say exactly what they think the case is, whether they still think it’s murder-suicide or, as the family thinks, a double homicide,” Donovan told CP24.
‘Wild speculation zone’: former detective
Former Toronto Police homicide detective Mark Mendelson says that while “everybody wants an answer,” there won’t be one until police stand on a podium and share the results of their investigation.
“We’re sitting here in this sort of wild speculation zone,” he told CTV News Channel on Saturday.
“No one is in a better position to make a determination as to what this is and what this isn’t other than the homicide squad,” Mendelson added.
“They have all of the information that’s being gleaned from that scene, be it forensic or photography ... the pure version first statements taken of all the witnesses that have been interviewed ... the first autopsy.”
Mendelson said to keep in mind that the private investigators “probably have a small part” of the information that police have.
“Right now, the homicide squad at Toronto Police Service have complete control and carriage of that scene,” Mendelson said. “They are obviously doing a very thorough investigation.”
Former homicide detective Steve Ryan said that he believes homicide detectives would let the public know if they had any reason to suspect foul play.
“They never sit on that information,” he said.
Prominent Toronto defence lawyer Brian Greenspan is leading the Sherman family’s investigation. He was not available to comment .
With a report from CTV’s Peter Akman