Family of Murdered Billionaire Posts $7.6 Million Reward
(Bloomberg) -- The family of slain Canadian billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife Honey have offered a reward of as much as C$10 million ($7.6 million) for information in their deaths, alleging police mishandled the investigation from the beginning.
A call center will be set up to assess fresh tips in a bid to rejuvenate the case which has gone on for almost a year, said Brian Greenspan, counsel for the Sherman family.
“Regrettably it has become clear to them that despite the active pursuit of search warrants and exploring other investigative avenues, police resources have neither been properly managed nor effectively utilized,” Greenspan said Friday at a media conference in Toronto. The police pushed back against that narrative in their own briefing Friday.
The announcement comes after Sherman, founder of closely held generic-drug maker Apotex Inc., and his wife were found dead in their Toronto mansion on Dec. 15, hanging by belts near the basement pool. Barry Sherman, 75, was one of Canada’s richest men and the couple were well-known philanthropists in the city, donating to hospitals, the University of Toronto and other causes.
From the start, their deaths provoked controversy. Toronto police initially said they were “suspicious,” but there were no signs of forced entry and they weren’t looking for any suspects. In the days following the discovery of the bodies, some media outlets reported the deaths were being treated by police as a potential murder-suicide, committed by Barry Sherman.
The reports sparked outrage from the couple’s four adult children, who issued a statement saying their parents’ characters were “totally inconsistent with the rumors regrettably circulated in the media,” and urging police to do a thorough investigation.
The Sherman family hired Greenspan, a Toronto criminal defense lawyer who had previously represented the likes of Justin Bieber and Naomi Campbell, to advocate for the family. Greenspan assembled a team of retired police detectives to conduct a separate investigation and began pushing back publicly against the idea that Sherman was responsible for the deaths.
The Shermans also hired a pathologist to conduct second autopsies of the bodies. Among the more striking discoveries, according to a person familiar with the private investigation team’s work, were narrow markings on both victims’ wrists. This evidence pointed to their hands being tied at some point even though there were no bindings found at the scene. Barry’s legs were also crossed in front of his body in a position likely too orderly for a suicide.
‘In Fact Targeted’
The private investigators briefed the police on their conclusion that a murder-suicide could not be correct, the person said. On Jan. 26, more than a month after the bodies were found, homicide detective Susan Gomes told reporters that the Shermans “were in fact targeted” and declared the deaths homicides. Gomes pointed to “six weeks of evidence and its review” as the reason behind the conclusion, refusing to elaborate further.
On Friday, Greenspan said the police had erred in several aspects of the investigation including not assessing and securing the crime scene properly as well as failing to notice initially that the bodies were staged. They also missed at least 25 fingerprints and palm impressions that private investigators later found, according to Greenspan.
A panel will be set up to assess eligibility for the rewards.
“There are circumstances where rewards have worked and we believe it may work well here,” he said.