Autopsies underway for Canadian billionaires found dead

Police cars are parked outside the home of billionaire Barry Sherman on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2017 in Toronto. Sherman and his wife were found dead in the north Toronto mansion on Friday, Dec. 16. Police said they were investigating the deaths as suspicious. (AP Photo/Robert Gillies)
Police tape surrounds the home of billionaire Barry Sherman on Saturday, Dec. 17 2017, in Toronto. Sherman and his wife were found dead in the north Toronto mansion on Friday, Dec. 16. Police are investigating the deaths as suspicious. (AP Photo/Robert Gillies)

TORONTO — Investigators are awaiting the results of autopsies performed on Canadian billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife after they were found dead in their home in what police called suspicious deaths.

Toronto Police spokesman Mark Pugash said Saturday the deaths are suspicious based on what they know, but offered no other details. Police earlier said there were no signs of forced entry and there was no outstanding suspect they were going after. The 75-year-old pharmaceutical magnate and his wife, Honey, 70, were found dead in their north Toronto mansion on Friday.

The deaths shocked Canadian high society and prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make a statement.

Sherman founded Toronto-based Apotex Inc. in 1974 with two employees and turned it into the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company. Canadian Business magazine recently estimated his worth at $4.77 billion (US$3.65 billion), making him the 15th richest person in the country.

The Shermans recently put up their house for sale for $6.9 million Canadian (US$5.4 million).

The Sherman family issued a statement Saturday urging police to conduct a thorough, intensive and objective criminal investigation" into their parents' deaths and urging the media to avoid speculating on the cause of the deaths.

The Shermans were among Canada's most generous philanthropists. The couple made numerous multimillion-dollar donations to hospitals, schools and charities and had buildings named in their honor.

They also hosted Trudeau for a Liberal party fundraiser in 2015. Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau issued a statement on Twitter.

"Sophie and I are saddened by news of the sudden passing of Barry and Honey Sherman," Trudeau said. "Our condolences to their family & friends, and to everyone touched by their vision & spirit."

Apotex is a generic drugmaker with 11,000 employees world-wide, including more than 6,000 in Canada. The company released a statement on Saturday paying tribute to its founder, praising both his philanthropic efforts and what it described as his vision for health care.

"Patients around the world live healthier and more fulfilled lives thanks to his life's work, and his significant impact on health care and health care sustainability will have an enduring impact for many years to come," the statement read. "As employees, we are proud of his tremendous accomplishments, honored to have known him, and vow to carry on with the Apotex purpose in his honor."

Honey Sherman was a member of the board of the York University Foundation. She also served on the boards of Mount Sinai's Women's Auxiliary, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the International American Joint Distribution Committee.

But Barry Sherman was not without controversy. He faced legal action from family members alleging they had been cut out of the company over the years.

"We are at a loss of words," neighbor Sarah Alva said. "They are both the most wonderful people we knew and our hearts goes out to their families."

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