A Toronto journalist who reported on the Barry and Honey Sherman murders, including its troubled investigation, has released a book titled “The Billionaire Murders” documenting the mysterious deaths.
Kevin Donovan, chief investigative reporter with the Toronto Star, has interviewed crime experts, police officials and people close to the Apotex Inc. billionaire and his wife, to explain who the Shermans are and better understand what made people raise their eyebrows about the investigation in to their deaths.
“It’s a...gratifying feeling,” Donovan told Yahoo Canada. “This one has occupied about two years of my life, both writing stories for the Toronto Star and also doing extra research for the book.”
Donovan said his best moment since the book’s release is getting a phone call from Barry’s “best friend” who said the journalist was able to really capture the couple’s lives, telling him “you did it.”
Barry and Honey Sherman were found dead in their Toronto home on Dec. 15, 2017. Their bodies were found by a real estate agent in the basement pool area of their $6.9 million house, which was up for sale at the time. It is believed that they were killed two days before the bodies were first discovered.
During the initial investigation into their deaths, relatives of the couple and lawyer Brian Greenspan claimed it was being mishandled by Toronto police, resulting in the family putting together their own team of investigators to look into Barry and Honey Sherman’s deaths. The team of private investigators also implemented a reward of up to $10 million for any information to help solve the case.
Misstep in determination of deaths
Police initially deemed the Barry and Honey Sherman case a murder-suicide. Donovan was not involved in the initial reporting of the story, but was later assigned by the Toronto Star to investigate whether it was in fact a murder-suicide or a double murder.
“I cannot, as a reporter for 35 years covering crime, understand how they came to that assessment, but they did,” Donovan said.
Although the book’s author cannot know with full certainty why the working theory for the murders was incorrect at the outset, he has speculated that there are a few factors that could have possibly impacted the determination.
“There’s a couple of possibilities. One, that the officers who first arrived at the scene assessed the situation and decided that it was one of those awful, but not too rare, occurrences where a husband takes the life of his wife and then takes his own life,” Donovan said.
“I think that the police were also very busy with the...Bruce McArthur serial killer case that was in December of 2017, unknown to all of us in the public and the media, but police were closing in on that individual and I have to think that some of the people that probably might have been on the Sherman case...were called to other duties.”
In the book, Donovan documents the first 48 hours of the police investigation, critical in a homicide case, where police did not look at key pieces of evidence. This includes DNA and fingerprints, and security camera footage from Apotex and the house across the street from the Sherman’s home at 50 Old Colony Rd.
Back in Jan. 2018, Donovan reported, in story for the Toronto Star, that Dr. David Chiasson, formerly the chief forensic pathologist for Ontario, conducted a second autopsy at the request of the Sherman family. Chiasson concluded that it was a double homicide, contrary to the police’s initial theory. Following the release of Donovan’s article, Toronto police announced it was in fact a double murder.
Who were Barry and Honey Sherman?
The couple were two of the richest people in Canada, with an estimated net worth of over $4.7 billion. They have been recognized for their philanthropic efforts, donating millions of dollars to charities. But Donovan found that their social status impacted his ability to look into their murders.
When he began his investigation, he would tell individuals “in the Shermans’ circle” that he understands there is a “terrible loss,” but his intention is to chronicle the couple’s lives.
“It took about, I would say about four months to get people,” Donovan said. “They were acting like they were the Kennedy’s of Canada...acting like there should be some great secrecy, and I said, you know even with the Kennedy’s that family did speak.”
Donovan said that in all of his years as an investigative reporter, he has never encountered such “incredible privacy.”
“I think...that they were afraid that I would tell the truth, and the truth is that they were obviously very wealthy,...the family was not a happy family at time but Barry and Honey were very good people in their own respects, but they had their own human foibles,” Donovan said.
“That’s what I circle back to when the best friend called and says that you did it, what he’s saying is, you made...Barry and Honey look human and I thank you for that.”
Since 2018, the journalist has been trying to get documents from the Sherman estate unsealed. On Thursday, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in the Toronto Star’s favour to make the files public and now the Supreme Court of Canada will hear the appeal from the Sherman family.
The future of the investigation
Through his research and interviews for both the book and the Toronto Star, Donovan’s assumption at this point is that the murderer, or murderers, were familiar to the Shermans.
“I do not think it’s a case of organized crime, I don’t think it’s international espionage, I don’t think it’s a rival pharmaceutical firm and that’s because, I think there’s some significance to the fact that both of them were murdered,” Donovan explained.
He said that the way the bodies were staged, with Honey having injuries to her face and Barry sitting “in repose” with his glasses on his nose and one foot stretched out in front of the other, in addition to knowing the rare moment when they would both be home, also leads him to believe that someone who knew them was involved.
“To have them both home on that Wednesday evening, they were pretty busy people and I think you needed to know their schedule to know when they would be there,” Donovan said.
Despite the initial blunders by police, the journalist and book author does believe that we will see a resolution, based on the remarks made by a detective on the case who said police are “cautiously optimistic” that there will be some resolution in the near future.
Donovan also learned that police have obtained and analyzed a large amount of electronic data and detectives have requested more production orders and search warrants.
“I have a feeling, more than I’ve ever had in the last two years, that they are circling in on suspects or suspect,” Donovan said.
“The police have said to me in court that they have a theory of the case...they said they have an idea of what happened. I can’t imagine how you can have a theory of a case and an idea of what happened, and not have a suspect.”