TORONTO — Billionaire philanthropist Barry Sherman and his wife, Honey, were strangled to death, the autopsies revealed.
Toronto Police released a statement late Sunday that said the cause of death was “ligature neck compression.”
The investigation into the deaths of Barry Sherman, 75, the founder and chairman of the generic drug maker Apotex, and his wife, 70, has been turned over to Toronto homicide detectives.
The couple’s bodies were found Friday night hanging from a railing that surrounded their indoor pool. Police labeled the deaths “suspicious.”
There were no signs of forced entry into their Toronto-area home, which had been placed up for sale recently for an asking price of about $5.4 million. The bodies were discovered by the real estate agent, who let herself in with the key that had been given to her.
Police reportedly had been considering the possibility that the deaths were a murder-suicide, something the family condemned in a statement issued Saturday.
“Our parents shared an enthusiasm for life and commitment to their family and community totally inconsistent with the rumors regrettably circulated in the media as to the circumstances surrounding their deaths,” the statement 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”
Barry Sherman was the 15th richest Canadian, according to Canadian Business magazine, with an estimated wealth of $4.77 billion Canadian, or $3.65 billion.
In addition to donating some $39 million to the United Jewish Appeal, Sherman was a fundraiser for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party.
Honey Sherman sat on the boards of several Jewish organizations, including Mount Sinai’s Women’s Auxiliary, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
The couple donated millions to local hospitals, schools and charities.
The Shermans didn’t flaunt their wealth. He drove beat-up cars. Their home is relatively modest for a billionaire.
Sherman founded Toronto-based Apotex Inc. in 1974 with two employees and turned the generic drugmaker into a company that now has 11,000 employees worldwide. The company released a statement Saturday paying tribute to its founder, praising both his philanthropic efforts and what it described as his vision for health care.
The Shermans were among Canada’s most generous philanthropists, and their deaths shocked Canadian high society and the country’s Jewish community.
Linda Frum, a Canadian senator and close friend of the couple, said they were one of the kindest and most beloved members of Canada’s Jewish community.
“Our community is steeped in grief. I am heartbroken,” Frum tweeted.