(CNN) — The death of Canadian billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman was, from the start, a mystery.
On December 15, 2017, a real estate agent taking a tour of the couple’s Toronto mansion around noon discovered their bodies, fully clothed, next to the indoor pool in the basement. They were semi-sitting next to each other, with belts tied around their necks and attached to the railing of the indoor pool, according to police.
Barry Sherman was 75 years old; his wife Honey was 70 years old. None of his friends or business associates had heard from him in about two days, and there were no signs the door to the home had been forced, police said.
The story made headlines far beyond his thriving Toronto community. Police called the deaths suspicious and theories arose about who might have wanted to kill the founder of Canadian generic drug giant Apotex and his philanthropist wife, one of Canada’s wealthiest couples.
Researchers have worked to connect the dots. But five years later, no arrests have been made. On the anniversary of the event this week, the Shermans’ son has just offered an extra US$25 million for useful information to detect the person or persons responsible. The reward is now $35 million.
“This week marks the fifth anniversary since my parents were murdered in their home. Every day from that moment on was a nightmare. I am overwhelmed with grief, loss and sadness, and these feelings are getting worse,” Jonathon Sherman said in a statement to Canada’s CBC News, announcing the reward money.
“Leaving behind what happened will not be possible until those responsible for this evil act are brought to justice,” he added. “I hope that the day will come when I pay that money, since I will finally be able to heal.”
Initially, it was speculated with a suicide
From the beginning, the case confounded both investigators and amateur detectives. Days after the grim discovery of the bodies, an autopsy revealed the couple died from “compression of the neck with ligatures” or strangulation. The investigation was still in its early stages and the deaths were not being treated as homicides, police said at the time.
“The manner was indeterminate and the only options presented were double suicide, murder/suicide or double homicide,” Detective Sergeant Susan Gomes said.
The prominence of the victims made the case high-profile from the start.
Barry Sherman founded Apotex in 1974 and expanded it into a global pharmaceutical company that has donated more than $50 million to charity, according to its website. At the time of Sherman’s death, Forbes estimated that he was worth US$3 billion.
The Shermans’ wealth, large investments and philanthropic work meant that the couple frequently crossed paths with Canada’s business and political elites.
His funeral was attended by thousands of people, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Kathleen Wynne, Premier of the Province of Ontario.
At the service, an emotional Jonathon Sherman took the stage, flanked by his three sisters, and lashed out at speculation about his parents’ possible suicide.
“Our parents never left anyone alone. They were taken from us,” she said through tears, adding that the family took solace in the thought that the Shermans were together in the afterlife. “They were like a lock and key, each pretty useless on its own. But together they opened the world for you, for us and for many others,” she said.
The couple’s children hired their own forensics team and private investigators, leading to the belief that they disagreed with the police line of investigation.
Toronto police later said investigators never indicated whether the case was a murder or suicide, saying that was a misunderstanding. Authorities said they had tried to reassure the public that it was not a home invasion or robbery with violence.
Later, the police concluded that someone had murdered them.
Six weeks after the bodies were found, Toronto police announced that a review of the evidence showed that the couple had been the victims of a homicide, and that they were the targets of an attack. Investigators said the delay in establishing the manner of death was due to the additional time needed to search the Sherman mansion and related issues.
“The legal complexities were challenging given the litigious nature of Barry Sherman’s businesses, particularly the search and seizure of electronics and the search of Barry Sherman’s workspace at Apotex,” Gomes said in January 2018.
“Two residential properties belonging to the Shermans were searched. Sherman’s main residence is a large three-story family home. Six weeks of search, forensic review and confiscation of evidence are justified, ”he clarified.
Police indicated that there are possible financial motives for the double homicide, according to CBC, a CNN affiliate. A Toronto police spokesman declined to comment on that report.
Over the years, Barry Sherman had sued dozens of people, including a lawsuit filed on the last day he was seen alive against someone he claimed had scammed him out of $150,000, the CBC reported. He was known for lending money to friends and family and investing in other businesses.
Gomes declined to give details about what evidence was found in the search of the house or if there had been any burglary. He said there were no suspects, but added that police spoke to several people who had access to the house.
The CBC reported that the Sherman mansion did not have security cameras. With no sign of forced entry, it’s possible someone had a key, had access to the lock box containing the keys, or was known to the couple, Gomes said.
She urged any witnesses to come forward to help with the investigation. “We have a significant amount of images of people from the neighborhood,” she said.
Weeks turned into months with no new potential witnesses coming forward. Even the investigators admitted that the family was growing impatient with the lack of information.
“For them, it has been difficult to balance their patience with the frustration they have with us and with our investigation, like any other family that has suffered such a sudden and profound loss,” Gomes said in 2018.
In 2021, police asked for help identifying a shadowy suspect
After years of silence, police made a startling announcement on the fourth anniversary of the couple’s death last year.
They shared video of a person caught on security video walking down snow-covered sidewalks in the North York neighborhood where the couple lived. Police described the person as suspicious and asked for the public’s help in identifying him.
Police said the suspect had his head covered in the video and appeared to be between 1.70 and 1.80 meters tall. She added that she did not know if it was a man or a woman and that she could not determine his age, weight or skin color.
The unusual gait of the suspect, who seemed to raise his right heel when walking, drew attention.
“Through our investigation, we have not been able to determine what this individual’s purpose in the neighborhood was. The timing of this individual’s appearance coincides with the time we believe the murders occurred. Based on this evidence, we classify this individual as a suspect,” Detective Sergeant Brandon Price said at a news conference.
An “extensive video tour” of the neighborhood revealed another capture of the suspect and, based on when police believe the murders occurred, the person was near the Sherman home and was there for a period of time, Price said.
They urged the person to appear before Justice, but without success.
Sherman children say lack of answers increases their pain
Five years after the murders, there have been no major new developments. True crime podcasts have tried to unravel the intrigue surrounding the couple’s deaths.
The Shermans’ children say the years since the murders have been a nightmare.
The pain is compounded by the lack of answers, said Alex Krawczyk, his daughter.
“Until now there has been no justice for them and no chance of closure for me and my family,” he said in a statement this week. “My heart is broken. My loss is immeasurable. My children have lost their grandparents. We miss their guidance, love and wisdom.”
As a folk singer, Krawczyk released a music album this year that he described as an attempt to process his grief and heal after the death of his parents.
In a statement to CBC, his brother, Jonathon Sherman, extended the same sentiment, saying the family will never have closure until the killer is brought to justice. The loss of his parents goes beyond the family and extends to the many people whose lives they touched, he said. The Shermans were a large part of the local Jewish community, and were involved in numerous philanthropy and advocacy work.
“Nothing will replace your incredible generosity and your social impact,” he told CBC. “My parents deserved to enjoy the fruits of their labor, and spend their twilight years as any grandparent should, with his family…I am always tormented by what happened to them,” he added.
The brothers reminded the public of the $35 million in reward money and urged anyone with information to contact the Toronto Police Service. CNN has reached out to the family for comment.
Caroline de Kloet, a spokeswoman for the Toronto Police Service, declined to comment on a possible motive or the development of the case.
“This is still an active and ongoing investigation,” he said. “The Toronto Police Service is committed to resolving this case and closing it for the family and friends of Barry and Honey Sherman.”