Private investigation into Shermans' deaths over; police probe continues

TORONTO — A private investigation into the homicides of billionaire philanthropists Barry and Honey Sherman has come to an end, Toronto police said Monday as they asked for the public's help in solving the case that shocked the city two years ago.

The high-profile team spearheaded by lawyer Brian Greenspan kicked off its efforts last October with broad attacks against the city police force and open questions about the integrity of its investigation.

But Insp. Hank Idsinga, head of the force's homicide unit, said the private team has since completed its work and the family has left matters in the hands of Toronto police.

"The Sherman family appreciates the hard work and dedication of the police officers working on this case," he said as he read a statement on the family's behalf. "They are committed to working with us and have full confidence that the Toronto Police Service will solve this crime."

Greenspan did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and Idsinga declined to answer questions about the private investigation or its conclusion.

Idsinga offered no updates on the police's efforts to solve the case, which he described as a massive undertaking involving dozens of searches, hundreds of tips, and hours of video footage.

Barry Sherman, the founder of generic pharmaceutical giant Apotex, and his wife were killed inside their Toronto mansion on Dec. 13, 2017. Both were found two days later in a semi-seated position by the house pool, hanging from a railing with belts around their necks. Autopsy results revealed the pair died by "ligature neck compression," and police have previously said there were no signs of forced entry.

Idsinga said the homicides were "targeted," but offered no further information or details about police theories on the case.

"I can't imagine how disturbing it must be for the family and loved ones of these victims to continually read about speculation in the media," he said.

At the time the couple's four children hired Greenspan to assemble a private investigative team, the high-profile lawyer unleashed a barrage of criticisms against the Toronto police and attacked the credibility of the force's investigation.

Greenspan alleged the police investigation was flawed from its earliest hours when an officer indicated investigators were not searching for any suspects. He said those statements amounted to police suggesting the couple died as a result of either suicide or murder-suicide.

Greenspan said that sent the wrong message and set the tone for an inadequate investigation, also accusing the force of failing to collect key evidence or check points of entry into the Sherman's north Toronto home.

The force has defended its investigation, with Chief Mark Saunders saying early statements on the case represented a bid to soothe the fears of anxious community members concerned they may be at risk.

Greenspan's investigative team was comprised of several former Toronto homicide detectives, Ontario's former chief pathologist, and forensic experts. Idsinga said the team has shared 343 tips with Toronto police, but did not discuss any of the team's other findings.

Idsinga said anyone who submitted information to the private investigators should now share those details again with the Toronto police. He declined to elaborate on communications between the two sides, but said officers are asking people to send their tips in again to make sure the force has all the necessary information.

Idsinga said the family is maintaining its offer of a reward of up to $10 million for information that would solve the case. He said it's not unusual for major cases to drag on for years, citing multiple examples from his own career.

While some cases can stretch on for decades, Idsinga said he does not anticipate such a protracted timeline in this case.

Barry Sherman founded Apotex in 1974 and built it into a generic drug giant with more than $2 billion in annual revenue. He stepped down as CEO five years ago and was no longer involved in the company's daily operations.

Honey Sherman was a member of the board of the Baycrest Foundation and the York University Foundation. She also served on the boards of Mount Sinai's Women's Auxiliary, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the International American Joint Distribution Committee.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published Dec. 16, 2019.

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