Mourners pay tribute to Toronto billionaires found dead
MISSISSAUGA, Ontario (AP) — The children of billionaire philanthropists Barry and Honey Sherman said Thursday they have been terrorized by speculation surrounding their parents’ deaths.
Jonathon Sherman, the couple’s son, said at a memorial they have had to “navigate through a terrifying maze of non-information and unfounded speculation.”
The founder of generic drugmaker Apotex and his wife were found dead in their Toronto home last Friday. Police call the deaths suspicious and say both died of “ligature neck compression,” but say there were no signs of forced entry and they were not looking for suspects.
The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star have cited police sources as saying authorities are leaning toward a murder-suicide theory. The Sherman family has strongly rejected that.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory attended the memorial, in addition to thousands of others including Apotex employees and members of the city’s Jewish community.
Jonathon Sherman said the days since his parents’ deaths have been an ordeal for the family.
“As my sisters and I congregated for two days waiting to hear any facts other than through Twitter and the unreliable news media, I kept expecting my parents to walk through the front door and say, ‘Everything will be fine; we’ve taken control of the situation.’ These last few days have been a shocking adjustment to our reality,” he said.
Sherman said that two weeks ago his father was told he had been named to the Order of Canada — one the country’s highest honors.
“I don’t know what will happen now with that award, if anything,” he said.
The Sherman family previously issued a release slamming police sources who spoke to the news media, and they urged police to conduct a thorough, intensive and objective criminal investigation into the deaths.
Canadian Business magazine recently estimated Barry Sherman’s worth at 4.77 billion Canadian dollars ($3.65 billion), making him the 15th richest person in the country.
Barry 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.
At the memorial, Jonathon Sherman said his father was his hero. He called him a staunch atheist and he took off his kippah when he addressed his late father.
The Shermans were among Canada’s most generous philanthropists, and their deaths shocked Canadian high society and Toronto’s Jewish community. The couple made numerous multimillion-dollar donations to hospitals, schools and charities and had buildings named in their honor. They hosted Trudeau at a Liberal Party fundraiser in 2015.
Honey Sherman sat on the boards of several civic groups, including Mount Sinai’s Women’s Auxiliary, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the International American Joint Distribution Committee.
Tory, Toronto’s mayor, said he sat between the Shermans at a charity event just two weeks ago.
“Their humanity knew no bounds and their generosity was extraordinary,” Tory said.
Associated Press writer Charmaine Noronha reported this story in Mississauga and AP writer Rob Gillies reported from Toronto.