Jordan: If the deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman aren’t the most suspicious in Canadian history, they are on the shortlist.
News Clip: Shocking news from the business world tonight, the founder of Canadian drug giant APOC Apotex, Barry Sherman and his wife, honey have been found dead in the York mills mansion.
Police are treating the deaths of the billionaire philanthropists. As suspicious.
Jordan: The circumstances surrounding the Sherman’s deaths were strange from the very beginning, but in the weeks and months that followed, they got even stranger.
News Clip: We believe now through the six weeks of work review, we have sufficient evidence to describe this as a double homicide investigation.
Jordan: It’s now been almost two years since their bodies were found. The case is still open. The police are still working at tips keep coming in and reporters keep digging. One reporter in particular, a new book reveals some of the details of the case that police have been a tight lipped about, and more importantly, it sheds light on just how secretive police have been.
It also gets at why answers to two of Canadian crimes, most baffling questions. Who killed the Shermans? Why might actually not be that far away?
I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings. This is the Big Story. Kevin Donovan is an investigative reporter with the Toronto star. He is also the author of the billionaire murders, the mysterious deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman.
Kevin: Hello, Jordan.
Jordan: Why don’t you start with where this whole story started. On the day that Barry and honey Sherman were found,
Kevin: December 15th 2017 almost two years ago, a realtor who was showing some people through a a house on old colony road in North Toronto.
Came upon a scene in the basement, a swimming pool area that was rarely used by the Shermans. And, uh, uh, it was very in honey Sherman, uh, they had a, uh, as it turned out, being strangled, they were posed, uh, in a, a semi seated position is how the police have described it, uh, with the leather belts around their neck.
Uh, they’d been dead, uh, for probably close to 36 hours.
Jordan: And what was the initial reaction of the police and their investigation?
Kevin: I wasn’t involved until early January in this, but, but was aware of what was happening. The, uh, the police never came out publicly and said it was murder suicide, but by the Saturday, all the major media outlets were reporting, police sources were calling this a murder suicide.
In fact, one one outlet the night before was going to publish the story saying they were executed. It was the double murder. And the reporter has written about this and said that he got a call saying, no, no, this is a murder suicide. And certainly court documents that I’ve ex accessed in the process show that in the first six weeks, the police were investigating the murder of honey Sherman, but not the murder of honey Sherman and Barry Sherman.
Jordan: So how did you get involved and start your investigation?
Kevin: Uh, my, uh, editor, uh, at the star on January six asked me if I would look into the case. And find out, uh, two things. One, uh, who did it, still working on that, but the other, uh, easier task was to see if this was a murder suicide or a double murder.
And, uh, having been a reporter for 35 years, I have number of sources that have built up over the years. And, uh, and also just with some shoe leather was able to track down, uh. Enough people and interview enough people to do a story. A couple of weeks later that had the quite bold headline, they were murdered.
Uh, that was on January 19th. Uh, so, uh, almost, uh, just over a month after the, the deaths and then the Toronto police, uh. Read that a story saw that I had named a forensic pathologist who had come to this a different conclusion than their own people. Uh, they called Dr. David Chase on up, asked him to come in for an interview and then, uh, within two days they were holding a press conference.
The police held a press conference and they announced a that it was a double murder.
Jordan: How does it happen like that? Like how does the course of event that’s not usual.
Kevin: I still have so many unanswered questions on that. I, uh, one of the things I write in, in the billionaire murders is that that particular week when the Sherman bodies were found, uh, we in the public didn’t know about the Bruce McArthur investigation by the Toronto homicide squad, but it was very active at that time and they really closing in on him.
It is possible that a resources that were quite correctly applied to the McArthur case. And then, uh, the Sherman case was originally handled by divisional officers. They looked at the scene and, uh, until we actually get an opportunity to talk to the investigators who are on the scene, it’s not going to be clear why they came up with that assumption.
One of the. The issues was in the first pathologist had a, had noticed that a bone in our neck called the hyoid bone, uh, was not broken. And there are those in the friends and friends. It’s like everything. Journalism, uh, law. There’s always a vigorous debate about. About what things mean, and when the hyoid bone is not broken, it can be a sign of suicide.
And if manual strangulation, a much more violent attack normally breaks the hyoid bone. Interestingly, that is the same issue going on with the Jeffrey Epstein case in, in New York. The second time in my life, I’ve heard of the hyoid bone. And, uh, so the second pathologist that was brought in by the Sherman family.
Was, uh, Dr. David Chase on who’s the former chief pathologist for Ontario. And he had done a paper 20 years before on the hyoid bone and knew that it was not necessarily indicative, one of the other. And he also noticed, uh, markings on the risks that looked like the Shermans had been bound, but then Unbound, uh, after death, and, uh, he put all that together.
And. Made his findings known to the Toronto police and then they started a proper investigation. But six weeks had gone by.
Jordan: What happens in those six weeks when they’re investigating it differently?
Kevin: Well, I mean, you, they, they were on a bit of a, in my opinion, that tunnel vision that the Toronto pleas, uh, they were looking at things like Berry and honeys, medical records to see if they were depressed.
And they were also, they were gathering the correct information. For example, video surveillance from Apotex very Sherman was a founder and owner of Apotex generic drug, a firm. They were gathering that surveillance video. They were gathering video from across the street from the Sherman.
Sherman’s had no cameras, but the neighbor did, but they didn’t look at them and they didn’t look at them until after my story came out and the star and after the police. Made the change and diagnosis. So time was lost. Absolutely. And then going ahead, many months, many months passed before they began taking DNA and fingerprint from people to exclude them, people who were with the Sherman’s that day, for example.
So the case moves forward after it’s determined that there’s at least the potential that they were murdered. That’s still a long time ago. What happened over the weeks and months and more than a year now since then,
the case is still unsolved. Yes. And, and the police have been, uh, uh, they’ve assigned, there’s a permanent officer on the case and, and th the Sherman case is different than a lot of other homicide investigations.
At this stage because it’s very much a, I’ll call it almost a paper or a data exercise. The police have been conducting searches, not searches where somebody goes in and, uh, into somebody’s house. These are our production order searches where they’re asking telecommunication companies. All sorts of organizations that keep data.
You know, we’re all tracked to these days and they are, they’re not sharing with me which data they are accessing, but they have done this over 40 times now and there’s more that are being sought or right now as we’re talking and they’re doing this to try and. I believe, uh, hone in on a person or persons.
Uh, the police have said during some of the challenges that I’ve mounted on behalf of the star to try and get information. They’ve, they have said that they have quote a theory of the case and quote an idea of what happened. They will not say whether they have a suspect, but I can’t imagine having a theory and not having an actual suspect.
Or at least a, a person of interest. So they’re, they’re working way on it. They have this one officer, detective Dennis who works on it full time. Then they have two other officers, Christy divine and, and detective Sergeant Brandon Price. He’s the, he’s the main officer on it these days. And they are, uh, those two are in the last month working on it on a daily basis, which is quite a change from last April when they were not as involved.
Something is moving forward on this case. And, uh. When I was last in court with the police, uh, to obtain, uh, some information related to the search warrant. They said they are quote, cautiously optimistic. And that was in response to me asking, you know, why are we getting any closer? And they said, yes, they are.
Jordan: Tell me a little bit about the dynamics of this case between the police and the family. You kind of touched on it by mentioning that the family had their own
Kevin: pathologist. Yeah. Jordan, it’s quite unheard of. Uh, the, uh, I mean, the family was very upset that first night because even before the media broke the story of the murder suicide theory, they were hearing things.
And, uh, it’s an interesting story of how Brian Greenspan is a criminal lawyer. And his private detective team got involved. And that’s because on the Friday evening, when the bodies, they, the bodies were found, uh, the Sherman family received a call from the, a family of another Jewish couple of who had been murdered in Florida in 2013.
And that family was. Uh, still looking for answers and it’s case. But they had hired private detectives in Florida to help them. And so the Sherman family were advised by these friends to do the same. So that’s how Greenspan got involved. And Greenspan, I think, made an important contribution to this by bringing in a forensic pathologist to do a Brian Greenspan called it in to provide a second lens on the case.
That was a key thing. There’s no doubt about that. And I’m convinced that had that not happened, this case would’ve gone down as a murder suicide. Uh, even though the, uh, the family was upset, they needed somebody to look at those bodies before they went into the ground, which happened, uh, uh, the day after the forensic, the second set of forensic autopsies.
Jordan: So since then, they’ve been running parallel investigations.
Kevin: They have, but I don’t think it’s that valuable anymore. The, the Toronto police have said that, uh, as of July 2nd of 2019, they received 343 tips that the family has passed on to them. Uh, those tips include, uh, at least one psychic, and I have a feeling more psychics have passed on information to Greenspan and his team, uh, on a weekly basis.
Up until July, the family was sending. A USB keys of these tips. And the tips are, as far as I understand, their, their voicemails, their, uh, their, their, their email, uh, information from people. And there’s lots of people out there who are like, cause I, I receive a lot of this too, who are telling me that, you know, the Clinton foundation, uh, rubbed out the Sherman’s or Massaad did it.
Uh, there’s lots of theories like that and I believe that the police would prefer at this stage. To, to not be getting all this information cause that I think is probably slowing them down because they feel they have to check everything out.
Jordan: When you’re investigating an ongoing case like this, how usual or unusual is the level of information you’ve been getting from the police?
Kevin: Well, the only information that anyone’s gotten from the police has been through these times when I’ve gone to court, I’ve done it four times now. And I allowed the to cross examine the, the detective on the case because he is trying to prove that they shouldn’t reveal anything. I actually have gotten a fair bit out of this process and it led to front page stories in the star.
I find this very unusual that we’re not getting information and it’s, it’s a, uh, it’s been a very difficult and frustrating because I’ve been quite critical of the, of the Toronto police. I’m sure they have answers to a lot of the. The allegations that I’ve raised, but they don’t feel like they can.
Answer those because they don’t want to jeopardize the case. So it must be tough to be on their side and seeing these headlines, right. Indicating that they’ve, they messed up. Uh, but yeah, no, it’s, it’s, it’s difficult, but I think the world is kind of going that way. There’s less information coming out from, from authorities who are investigating, uh, uh, criminal allegations.
And that’s because they always know that at the other end of a case as a defense lawyer that might want to tear them apart for anything they said to the media.
It does seem though with a murder or at least deaths like this, they’re incredibly high profile. There was intense media attention at the time that it occurred and the case is still unsolved and we don’t get regular updates.
Jordan: You mentioned the McArthur investigation. It was a good example of times that police would, at the very least, whether they were right or wrong, about their theories, continually address the media and the community and say, this is what we’re doing. Yeah, that they’re just not, and they have been very reactive.
Kevin: Uh, there have been stories that, that I’ve done that raise specific issues. And, and one of them, uh, came after a, uh, a TV reporter had been, had re canvas the area of the Sherman’s home when the, the house was knocked down and he had knocked on the door of, uh, of a, uh. Um, the neighbour across the street and heard the story that I’m a man on the Thursday.
So the day in between the death on the Wednesday and the discovery, the bodies on the Friday, and they had video surveillance that they had passed on to the police saying that, uh, that showed that a man had come and knocked at that door that Thursday morning. And, and, and they looked at the video before, gave me to the police, and it looked like the man was actually going in and out.
Key bit of information. One thing. Uh, so I got onto that story interview the couple, and produced quite a, I think, a very important story on this. Uh, gave the police three days, can you respond? Nothing, nothing, nothing. Story comes out. And then chief Mark Saunders gives a press conference saying not much, but he says, Oh, we, we, we checked into that.
We know who that person is and we’re not going to talk about it. But he had the opportunity to say that for three days before I did the story. So my, my point is they’re very reactive. They, and they’re, and they’re very sensitive about this too. They, they want, I think the Toronto police really wants to show that they, they, they got their person in this and, and they still are a distance from the finish line.
Jordan: What about the Sherman family itself? Beyond their investigation? There’ve been a number of names thrown about how complex a is the web inside Apotex on that family.
Kevin: Well, it, it is a complex it in, in some cases that you, one thing, so the TV show succession where there’s a second generation and everybody is trying to, to, to uh, take control.
And in the case of the Shermans and Barry was 75, honey was 70. Very was still very much active in his company running his company and his private holding company, which is called sure fam. The only one of his four children that was interested in. The business at all is Jonathan, who was his son.
And, uh, and the three daughters, uh, one daughter is that, uh, Alexandra is interested in the charity, and in fact, she’s running the family charity right now. Uh, but the other two who are the oldest and the youngest, do not seem interested at all. That. That’s kind of the laying out the web there.
Honey and Barry each had a sister, uh, the sister of, of honey, his persona non grata in the family. She’s been, uh, just told not to, not to come around anymore because of some comments she made. And then, and the children are at various times getting along with each other or not getting along with each other.
It’s a very dysfunctional family. And I, I think it always has been. One of the things I learned in the process of reporting on this is that that Barry maintained really strong ties with the children of his family, of his family, friends. And, uh, there are a number of children who are adult children that he would say to them, maybe you should take over the company.
Come work at Apotex. Uh, he didn’t see this in his own children. Uh, he seemed to like other people’s children. Uh, more than his own.
Jordan: Do we know how the estate would be divided? I’m imagining that’s one of the things that, uh. We’d be looked into in a case like this?
Kevin: Yeah, that’s a good question.
Uh, the, the, the will, uh, Barry Sherman’s, a very simple will, which he wrote in 2013, uh, is subject to a seal. And we’re challenging that now at the Supreme court of Canada. My sources, and I have three sources who have seen the, we’ll say that it’s divided equally amongst the four children.
Uh, that would be from the eldest to the youngest, uh, Lauren, Jonathan, Alexandra, and Kaylin. So they. Have the split. There’s money for his wife, honey, if Barry dies first, but is to be kept in a trust, which, uh, it’s been explained to me, was to be sort of controlled by the estate executors.
There’s also a page that deals with his, uh, the extended family that the children of his, uh, uh, of their two sisters have honey sister and Barry’s sister. And. As I understand it, there’s money for them at the pleasure of the executors. A neat, there were four executors of the Sherman estate.
Now there’s only three. Because I’m a Jack K Barry’s long time. One of his best friends, long time, uh, uh, almost copilot at Apotex as just being removed from it after he was fired by Jonathan from Apotex. So Jack Kay is not involved anymore in this. And then there’s the three trustees, which are, are, are Jonathan, um, one of the sister’s husband and a longtime CFO at, uh, at sure fan, the family holding company.
Jordan: How do you wrangle something that has as many threads as you’ve just described for a book like this when the case is still open and like theoretically the cops could have come forward last week as your book was about to be published and said, guess what? We solved the case.
Kevin: Yes. And there were some days when I was feeling like I was on tenterhooks and, and wondering if that was about to happen.
I mean, it would have been a good thing. Yeah. For, uh, for justice if that had happened, but it would not have been, uh, as good for, for me. But the way I, I’ve laid out the book is a very simple way that all the odd numbered chapters are contemporaneous to the investigation and, and things that I learned, uh, in between 2017 and now.
But the even numbered chapters start back, uh, the first one starts back with the, a Berry. Uh, Sherman and his best friend Joel Olster in forest Hill collegiate in 1955. And then as we move forward in, in the book, uh, you know, he gets older and older and has more accomplishments and some setbacks, and then the investigation, the same issue.
Jordan: And then at the end, it all, uh, the timelines match up to use the same term you used earlier. Do you have a theory of the case?
Kevin: Well, I do have a, I have theories of the case. I’m not gonna go in and talk about them. Uh, here. Uh, but I tried. No, no, it’s a, it’s a good, it’s a good try. And I want to make sure that I’m, I’m right before I, uh, say or, or, or publish.
Anything related to that. Uh, one thing I can tell you is that I, I. And I’m obviously not a police officer. I’ve discounted all the international intrigue theories. I don’t think it’s a, I don’t think it’s a global firm getting back a Barry Sherman, I don’t think it’s one of his, his business deals, uh, gone wrong.
I think it’s the Clintons. I don’t think it’s the Clintons. Uh, I, what I think. Thank you. Is that it’s people who, who knew Barry and honey. I think it’s people who, who wanted both of them, dad, and not just Barry. Barry would often say to people over the years, if anybody wants to take me out, I’m regular as clockwork.
I, I work late at Apotex. I walk out, somebody could just take a shot at me. He actually said that. And, uh, and so I, and I, and I also think it’s somebody who knew a fair bit about their movements. Uh, it was unusual for the Sherman’s to both be home on a Wednesday evening. Uh, it was an very, on the Thursday, really hadn’t, it didn’t have anything major to do.
Uh, his, his basically desk made for 35 years. Jack hae was, uh, away in, uh, on the Thursday when their bodies were lying there. He’s away in New York with his wife at something hunny arranged a charity event that he was going to and, and so somebody had, I think that specific knowledge, and I think that’s important.
To it. And the other thing, probably the more important recent information in this case is that the police have, have just had the Toronto police intelligence squad, uh, do a review and produce a report, which they just obtained now from civilian analysts who’ve looked at what they refer to as a voluminous amount of data.
And that data, I think is helping them, uh, pinpoint location of individual or individuals. And so I think this case is very much. Live right now and barring a setback, I predict that in the next few months there’s going to be a resolution.
Jordan: What’s your gut feeling about what happens once this case is solved to the company, to their family?
Kevin: Well, I think it’s going to. No matter what the resolution is, no matter who is ultimately charged, it’s going to throw the family into a spotlight that they would like to stay away from. Uh, because now, uh, apart from the few of us in the media that have been doing stories about this and, and, and part from this book, they, they actually have been able to get on with their lives.
And so now there will be a w arguably one of the bigger trials in Canadian history, and it’s going to take place in Toronto. And, uh, you know, there’s going to be. No, all the, you know, top lawyers probably lining up to defend who, whoever is ultimately charged if somebody is going to be charged.
Jordan: Thanks Kevin.
Kevin: Thank you.
Jordan: Kevin Donovan, investigative reporter at the star and author of the new book, the billionaire murders, the mysterious deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman. If you’d like to hear more from us, we are at thebigstorypodcast.ca and we’re on Twitter, on Instagram, and on Facebook at @frequencypods where you’ll find us.
You’ll find the gravy train, which is the other podcast I host, and you’ll find about a dozen other great podcasts, part of the frequency network, and listen to any one of them wherever you get your podcasts, that’s Apple, Google, Stitcher, Spotify, or what have you. Thanks for listening. I’m Jordan. Heath Rawlings. We’ll talk tomorrow.
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