r/UnresolvedMysteries – The Billionaire Murders: How could the police call Barry and Honey Sherman’s deaths a murder-suicide? (small update) πŸ’₯πŸ‘©πŸ‘©πŸ’₯

TL;DR: Someone leaked information + crime scene photographs of the Sherman murders to investigative reporter Kevin Donovan, who has done great work on this case since the beginning. You can read the whole thing in the news article released yesterday. He has not released the photos to the public, but the article states more precisely how they were found and questions how the police ever considered murder-suicide, or double suicide.


Background

From Wikipedia:

Bernard Charles “Barry” Sherman was a Canadian businessman and philanthropist who was chairman and CEO of Apotex Inc. With an estimated net worth of US$3.2 billion at the time of his death, according to Forbes, Sherman was the 12th-wealthiest man in Canada.

The day of the murder, neither Barry nor Honey were expected to be at home in the morning. The cleaning staff had already let themselves in with a recently installed lockbox when a pair of real estate agents arrived around mid-morning with a couple interested in the property. After showing them around the main story, the agents took the couple downstairs to the lap pool and hot tub. There, they discovered Barry and Honey’s bodies on the floor next to the pool. Both of their necks were tied with leather belts to a metal railing slightly over a metre high around the pool. Barry was seated, his legs crossed, on the pool deck; Honey was on her side with a bruise on her face. Coats pulled down over their shoulders restraining their arms; they were facing away from the water and fully clothed.

The police were called. The deaths were treated as “suspicious” and the Toronto Police Service Homicide Squad took the lead in the investigation, because it was “most experienced in dealing with sudden unexpected deaths”. Post-mortem examinations showed the cause of both deaths was “ligature neck compression”, which is ligature strangulation caused by binding or tying. Ligature strangulation is usually distinguished from hanging by the strangling force being something other than the person’s own body weight.

Toronto Police Service had previously told the news media that there was no indication of forced entry into the Sherman home and that their investigation did not include a search for any suspects. Although there was no note left by the deceased, police sources told the Toronto Star on December 15 or 16, 2017, that they were “probing the possibility that they were a murder–suicide”. Honey suffered face injuries and Barry did not, fueling initial police speculation she was the victim and Barry was not.

In response, friends noted that the house had nine entrances and both Barry and Honey would have been likely to let someone in who asked for help, no matter the time of day, even if they barely knew the person or they were a complete stranger. The Sherman children issued a statement urging the police to conduct a thorough criminal investigation and chastised the police for leaking a murder-suicide theory. They also contacted Toronto lawyer Brian Greenspan to retain a private investigator to look into the deaths.

The family also hired Dr. David Chiasson, the retired chief forensic pathologist for Ontario, to conduct another autopsy. The second autopsy established that the couple had been murdered.

In April 2019, the police said they had a “working theory” of the case and an “idea of what happened”, and as of May 2022 the investigation was “active and ongoing”.


Questions for the thread:

Who do you think leaked the info?

The Star says ‘we are not naming our sources’. My first guess would be the family / family’s lawyers, though I’m not sure how much information about the investigation they’d have? The original pathologist shared photos of the crime scene and first autopsy with the pathologist paid by the family to do a second, private autopsy, so the family’s lawyers could have acquired some information that way. The family also paid for their own private investigation and have put up a $10 million reward, so they could’ve been handed information via that route. However, Donovan has many contacts related to this case.

Whatever / whoever the source, The Star got the family’s permission before releasing this article, with the graphic showing an ‘anatomical sketch of the crime scene’.

Why do you think it took so long to declare it a double-homicide?

On the part of the original pathologist, I feel it may have been somewhat outside of their purview to specify if the deaths in this case were double murder, murder-suicide, or double suicide? E.g. they could state the cause of death was ligature asphyxiation, but the exact manner of death may have not been apparent during autopsy.

Question for those more knowledgeable – would a pathologist be expected to state if the belts were the likely cause of the asphyxiation, or if the ligature and positioning of the bodies could’ve been self-administered? The pathologist seemed very willing to provide the private pathologist with all necessary photos and information, and was in attendance at the second autopsy (police were also invited but declined). Overall I get the impression they may have been vague, or the report wasn’t as thorough as it should’ve been, but not that they did their job incorrectly. Happy to be corrected here as I lack knowledge!

The police, on the other hand… Early on, I understand not publicly specifying whether it was a double murder, murder-suicide, or double suicide to protect the investigation, especially one that was going to be complicated and high-profile from the get go. But the off the cuff remark from a policeman to a news crew directly and the leaked info from the beginning of the investigation indicates that they believed it was murder-suicide at the outset, at the expense of other avenues, including not collecting evidence in a timely manner. I believe this is the same division that received significant criticism about the disappearances and murders linked to serial killer Bruce McArthur.

They publicly about-faced and called a press conference to declare the investigation a double homicide the day after The Star posted this piece / exposΓ© about the second autopsy results. Did the second autopsy really make the police rethink / review the case (either because of the autopsy itself, or the heat brought by the family and article), or did the article’s publication force them to make public what they already knew?

On one hand, the police likely had the ultra-rich family lawyers pressing them to move the investigation away from a certain direction… but on the flip-side, the family had to face the public believing that their father had murdered their mother, because of the police’s botched handling early on.

Finally: who do you think killed them?

I’ve leaped-frogged all over the place here. I initially thought it was linked to Barry’s cousin, Kerry Winters, but I think factors that first make him seem compelling actually point away from him. While the saying “follow the money” is incredibly complex in a case like this, I do believe there is some warranted suspicion around Barry’s son, Jonathan. Anyone who was likely to inherit a portion of that vast fortune has ample motive. But there are just so many family members, friends, business and legal dealings that could’ve been involved (Barry made a LOT of enemies – it would take a post in itself to go through – but why was Honey killed, too?) …the possibilities boggle the mind.

r/UnresolvedMysteries – The Billionaire Murders: How could the police call Barry and Honey Sherman’s deaths a murder-suicide? (small update)

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