The Suspicious Deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman: suicide, murder, and insurance money
The details of this story are based on all available public records at the time of writing. The specifics of the case are accurate; the speculation as to motive is pure conjecture based on the old adage:
“Follow the money.”
You be the judge.
On the morning of December 15, 2018, the bodies of Barry and Honey Sherman, wealthy owners of Apotex Pharmaceuticals, were found in their home at 50 Old Colony Road, Toronto, discovered by a real estate agent who had been trying to contact them.
Their deaths were shocking. The passing of such great philanthropists was mourned by family, business associates, and friends. The Toronto Police were called in to investigate and announced that the deaths were “suspicious” and the cause of death was “ligature neck compression” usually associated either with strangulation or hanging. Now the question became, was it a double suicide, or a murder suicide pact, or a double homicide? In the one photo broadcast briefly on television, the crime scene showed two bodies in white robes or coats hanging at the edge of their indoor lap pool posed in symbolic elegance like something out of a Dan Brown novel.
Autopsies were performed. Initial speculation of murder suicide was obtained by the press. The family did not think that reflected well on their parent’s legacy and so they stepped in to the crime scene. This is something that generally only the very wealthy can do. A poverty stricken family of a mentally troubled person who is from a visible minority does not have access to private autopsy doctors or private investigators. They have to go with the standard police investigation, conclusions and report.
If you are very wealthy, and there is a lot at stake in terms of an upper class family brand, inheritance fortunes, insurance money and corporate control, you can do these things. They had their own private autopsy done. No doubt that the owners and partners of Apotex had access to every pharmaceutical under the sun, so who knows what chemical mix could turn up in one or both of the bodies.
What if it turned out that the “murder victim” had been drugged into a total relaxation before the ligature compression was applied? What if a similar pharmaceutical mix was found to have been ingested later by the “suicide victim”? What if the victims calmly waited side by the side at the edge of the pool until the drugs took effect and the weight of their sagging bodies against the ligatures took care of the strangulation part? If the blind bitch goddess of justice is truly impartial, these are the questions that should be probed by the Toronto Police and not by a purchased private autopsy report or a family financed private investigation. The perception of conflict of interest is tantamount to a conflict of interest, especially when billions of dollars are involved.
When an ongoing investigation does not immediately deem that the deaths are homicides, nor are suspects being sought, and police have stated that there is no public safety risk, it usually indicates that whatever happened at that crime scene is isolated to that crime scene. In this case, the home of Barry and Honey Sherman and the indoor lap pool at 50 Old Colony Road, a home that was up for sale for nearly 5 million dollars.
Besides tarnishing the honourable and philanthropic legacy of Barry and Honey Sherman, a police report of suicide or murder/suicide would slow down the settlement of the estate. It would definitely slow down any life insurance payouts, possibly even eliminate them. Unhappy with the police “suspicious deaths” label, the family hired private investigators to look into the deaths.
A little background: generally, in Canada, if a person commits suicide, insurance policies become null and void. If a person is murdered, the policy goes to the beneficiary. In the case of a double suicide, no insurance money. However, in the case of a murder/suicide, the money of the murdered victim goes to their beneficiary, but the suicide victim gets no payout.
Now, this is where being wealthy and being able to afford really, really good lawyers and a sympathetic judge are important. Who was the murderer and who the suicide victim? In a case where the victim has been stabbed to death and the murderer has a single gunshot wound through the top of the skull, the verdict is pretty clear. The person without a brain is most likely a suicide and the insurance payment goes to the murdered victim’s beneficiary. There are variations on a theme here, like when a murder/suicide pact note is found indicating that both parties wanted out. That nullifies any life insurance payments.
The simplest case of all is when the police determine that the victims were a double homicide. Insurance gets paid as soon as the investigation concludes. That is exactly the conclusion reached by the private investigators hired by the Sherman family. That report was released to the Toronto Daily Star on Friday, January 19. 2018. It proposes that proposes Barry and Honey Sherman were victims of a double homicide. The family purchased private report now contends that that Shermans were found kneeling at the edge of the pool with their hands bound. Insurance problem almost solved.
Almost. But given that this contradicts the Toronto Police report, and that no suspects are being sought and that no public safety warning has been issued by the police, enter really, really good lawyers and judges to settle the dispute. No pressure, but there are millions of dollars and 1% reputations riding on the outcome.
Crime and Punishment in Toronto 2018 … the story has yet to be concluded, but you can write your own conclusions and see how they compare to the next chapter.
Wait for the public autopsy, compare it to the private autopsy and then write one ending from the official police perspective, and one from the Private Investigators hired by the Sherman family. Write one from a Globe & Mail perspective, and one from a Toronto Star perspective. Maybe even one from a Toronto Sun perspective. You be the judge.
And then write the screenplay. It will be riveting.