Montreal (AFP) - Private investigators hired by the children of late Canadian pharmaceutical tycoon Barry Sherman concluded that he and his wife were murdered, the Toronto Star reported Saturday.
The 75-year-old chairman of Apotex and his 70-year-old wife Honey were found dead in their Toronto home on December 15. Apotex is the largest maker of generic drugs in Canada, and the Shermans' fortune was estimated at more than $3 billion.
Toronto's homicide unit, which took over the investigation into the "suspicious" deaths, earlier said that they had been strangled to death, but stopped short of calling them homicides.
The Shermans' bodies were found hanging from a railing around a basement pool, the theory being that the Apotex chairman killed his wife Honey, hung her body and then hanged himself by the pool's edge, Canadian media reported in December, citing a police source.
Sherman's four children however said that a murder-suicide made no sense, and hired criminal lawyer Brian Greenspan to help, the Star reported.
Greenspan in turn hired private detectives and asked for a second autopsy, which was carried out by a forensic pathologist on December 20, just before the funeral.
- "Contract killing" -
The pathologist and the detectives, which included former Toronto homicide investigators, found markings on the victims' wrists indicating that their hands had been tied with cord or a plastic zip tie.
When the bodies were found the wrists were untied, and no rope or cords were found, the newspaper said. Furthermore, toxicology tests on the bodies showed no abnormal sign of drug use.
The team concluded that the couple was strangled to death with men's leather belts found around their necks attached to a bar at the edge of the pool.
Sources close to the family probe used words like "professional," "contract killing," and "staged homicide" to describe the couple's death, the Star said.
The private detectives have not been granted access to the house, according to the Star, which quoted sources as saying that there was no damage or other evidence inside pointing to a home invasion.
And though both the police and private detectives canvassed nearby home for surveillance video, "nothing has come from a study" of the footage, the Star said.
Sherman founded Apotex in 1974, and over the following decades became known as a ruthless businessman who shunned the limelight while revolutionizing the drug industry in Canada.
Today, the company employs over 11,000 people and sells 300 generic drugs in 120 countries.