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)

TORONTO (AP) — Investigators were awaiting the results of autopsies performed on Toronto billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife Saturday before determining the next steps in the ongoing probe into their suspicious deaths.

Toronto Police Const. David Hopkinson said the autopsies were being performed a day after the Apotex founder and his wife, Honey, were found dead in their north Toronto mansion. Police have described the deaths as suspicious, but offered no other details to date.

Sherman founded Toronto-based Apotex Inc. in 1974 with two employees and gradually turned it into the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company.

Along the way he amassed a vast fortune, recently estimated by Canadian Business magazine at $4.77 billion (US$3.65 billion), making him the 15th richest person in the country.

The Sherman family issued a statement late Saturday afternoon urging police to conduct a thorough, intensive and objective criminal investigation into their parents’ deaths.

Sherman faced legal action from family members alleging they had been cut out of the company over the years.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau were among those to offer a tribute to the couple through social media.

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

Today, the company has more than 10,000 people in research, development, manufacturing and distribution facilities world-wide, with more than 6,000 employees at its Canadian operations.

Apotex 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.

The Shermans were among Canada’s most generous philanthropists and also organized funding of charitable causes through the Apotex Foundation. The couple made numerous multimillion-dollar donations to hospitals, schools and charities and had buildings named in their honor.

The address where the bodies were found was recently listed for sale for $6.9 million Canadian (US$5.4 million). Neighbors confirmed that the property was the couple’s home.