The deaths of Canadian billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman were shrouded in mystery from the start.
Around noon on December 15, 2017, a realtor touring the couple’s Toronto mansion found a fully clothed body next to their basement swimming pool. They were seated half-abreast, with belts around their necks and secured to the railing of the pool, police said.
Barry Sherman is 75; His wife Honey was 70 years old. None of their friends or business associates heard from them in two days and there were no signs of forced entry into their home, police said.
The story made more headlines than their wealthy counterparts in Toronto. Police are treating the death as suspicious, with theories swirling about who might have wanted to kill one of Canada’s richest couples, the founder of the Canadian drug giant Apotex, and his philanthropist wife.
Investigators are working to connect the dots. But five years have passed and no arrests have been made. On this week’s anniversary of the murder, an additional $25 million is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the Shermans’ son. The prize is now $35 million.
“This week marks the fifth anniversary of my parents being murdered in their home. Every day since then has been a nightmare. I’m overwhelmed with pain, loss and grief, and these feelings continue to grow,” Jonathon Sherman said in a statement to Canada’s CBC News announcing the prize money.
“There is no closure until those responsible for this evil act are brought to justice,” he added. “I’m looking forward to the day that this payment is made, because it will allow for healing.”
From the beginning, the case baffled investigators and interested spies.
A few days after the gruesome discovery, an autopsy revealed the couple had died from “neck clamps,” or strangulation. The investigation is still in its early stages and the deaths are not being treated as homicides, police said at the time.
Detective Sergeant Susan Gomes said: “The manner was unclear and the only possibility was a double-suicide, murder/suicide or double-homicide.”
The reputation of the victims meant that the case attracted much attention from the start.
Barry Sherman founded Apotex in 1974, grew it into a global pharmaceutical company, and donated more than $50 million to charity, according to his website. At the time of his death, Forbes estimated that he was worth $3 billion.
The Shermans’ wealth, vast investments and philanthropy saw them intersect with Canada’s business and political elites.
Their funerals were attended by thousands of people, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.
During the service, an emotional Jonathon Sherman took the stage next to his three sisters, challenging speculation that their parents had committed suicide.
“Our parents never left anyone behind. They were taken from us,” she said through tears, adding that the family is relieved to know the Shermans are together in the afterlife. “You were like a lock and a key, each of which was not needed for the other. But together, you have unlocked the world for yourselves, for us, and for many others,” he said.
The couple’s children hired their own team of forensic doctors and private investigators, leading to speculation that they were sparring with the police.
Toronto police later said investigators never identified the case as a murder-suicide early on, a mistake. Authorities said they tried to reassure the public that there were no signs of foul play or robbery.
Six weeks after the bodies were found, Toronto police said they were reviewing evidence that suggested they were the victims of a homicide and believed the pair were targeted. Investigators cited the additional time it took to search the Shermans’ home and related issues.
“The controversial conduct of Barry Sherman’s businesses, particularly electronics, and the search and seizure of Barry Sherman’s workplace, have made it difficult to carry out some of the executions,” Gomez said in January 2018.
“Two houses of the Sherman family were searched. Sherman’s primary residence is a large three-story family home. A six-week search, forensic examination and seizure of evidence is warranted.”
According to CNN, police said the double homicide may have had a financial motive. A Toronto police spokeswoman declined to comment on the report to CNN.
Barry Sherman has sued dozens of people over the years, including a lawsuit against a man he claims defrauded him out of a $150,000 investment on the last day he was seen alive, according to the CBC. He used to lend money to friends and relatives and invest in other businesses.
Gomez declined to elaborate on what evidence was found during the search of the home or whether anything was stolen. He said there are no suspects, but police are talking to several people who broke into the home.
The Sherman mansion does not have any security cameras, the CBC reported. There were no signs of forced entry, so someone may have a key and access to the lock box where the key is kept, or may be known to the couple, Gomez said.
He urged any witnesses to come forward. “We have quite a few pictures of people in the neighborhood,” he said.
Weeks turned into months. Even investigators have admitted that families are frustrated by the lack of information.
“It was difficult for them to balance their patience with their frustration with us and our investigation, unlike other families who have suffered such a sudden and severe loss,” Gomez said in 2018.
After years of silence, police made a dramatic announcement last year on the fourth anniversary of the couple’s death.
They shared footage of a shadowy figure captured on security video as the couple walked down a snow-covered sidewalk in their North York neighborhood. Police consider the man a suspect and are asking for the public’s help in identifying him.
Police said the suspect in the video had his head covered and appeared to be between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-9. Police said they did not know whether the suspect was male or female, and could not determine their age, weight or skin color.
They drew attention to the suspect’s unusual gait, which seemed to kick his right heel as he walked.
“During our investigation, we were unable to determine what the man’s purpose was in the vicinity. The timing of this man’s appearance is consistent with what we believe to be a murder. “Based on this evidence, we consider this person a suspect,” said detective S. Brandon Price said at a press conference.
Nearby “exhaustive video footage” revealed other surveillance footage of the suspect, which police believe is based on the homicide, and that the man was in the vicinity of Sherman’s home and had been in the area for some time, Price said.
They urged the man to come forward. Nobody did.
Five years after the assassination, there have been no major new developments. True crime podcasts have attempted to demystify the fascination surrounding death.
The Shermans’ children say the years after the massacre were a nightmare.
The lack of answers only adds to the grief, said their daughter, Alex Krawczyk.
“There is still no justice for them and no closure for me or my family,” he said in a statement this week. “My heart is broken. My loss is immeasurable. My children have lost their grandparents. We miss their guidance, love and wisdom.”
Folk singer Krawczyk explained that releasing her album this year was an attempt to process and heal her grief after the death of her parents.
In a statement to the CBC, her brother Jonathon Sherman echoed the sentiment, saying the family will never have closure until the killer is brought to justice. The loss of her parents, she said, extends beyond family to the many people she touched in their lives. The Shermans were a large part of the local Jewish community and were involved in numerous advocacy and charitable activities.
“Nothing can replace their incredible generosity and positive impact on the community,” he told the CBC. “My parents deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labor and spend their twilight years with their families, just like any grandparent. … I am forever devastated by what happened to them.”
The brothers alerted the public to the $35 million reward and asked anyone with information to contact the Toronto Police Service. CNN has reached out to the family for comment.
Toronto Police spokeswoman Caroline de Cloet declined to comment on the motive or incident.
“This is an ongoing and active investigation,” he said. “The Toronto Police Service is committed to solving this case and reaching out to the family and friends of Barry and Honey Sherman.”