Who killed Barry and Honey Sherman? A new book offers fascinating insights.
The murders of Honey and Barry Sherman, the billionaire couple found dead in their Toronto home in December 2017, remains one of the country’s most perplexing unsolved crimes. In the newly published Billionaire Murders: The Mysterious Deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman, Kevin Donovan, the chief investigative reporter at the Toronto Star, reveals new details of a case he has been examining for two years. Kevin Donovan speaks with Anne Kingston about the flawed police investigation, the fractious relationships within the Sherman family, how the Shermans’ wealth has been deployed to avoid media scrutiny, and what he believes about who might have done it.
Q: Your book reveals that Toronto police weren’t contacted for almost 90 minutes after the Shermans’ bodies were found next to their indoor swimming pool. Is that kind of delay unusual in your experience?
A: It’s very unusual, and I was fixated on it for some time. As far as I can tell, the bodies are discovered, some phone calls were made and the people who made the phone calls don’t want to describe to me why they did what they did. The police are adamant they got their call at 11:44 a.m. All of my research indicates the bodies were found at 10:10 a.m.
Q: Toronto police never said publicly that they believed the case was a murder-suicide, though they talked about “no forced entry” and no search for suspects. You write that police sources continued to tell reporters privately that murder-suicide was the working theory, which inflamed the Shermans’ family and friends. Yet there were also reports that both Barry and Honey Sherman were found with their coats pulled back behind them, which would immobilize arm movements—and rule out murder-suicide. How could police even consider it a murder-suicide?
A: I can’t speak for Toronto police. But, as I understand it, the coats were pulled down but not enough to immobilize them. There’s also the detail about marks found on their wrists indicative of them being bound together; but those ties are removed and cannot be found. I struggle with this. How could you look at that scene and not think this was a case of double murder? The other thing I spend a lot of time trying to figure out was that [the Shermans] were in a seated position on the floor, their backs to the pool. There’s no way you could strangle yourself sitting upright like that. It’s different than jumping from a stool, like we’ve seen in the movies. There’s no fall here. So, in my opinion, there can be no murder-suicide or double-suicide.
Q: So it’s another glaring question mark?
A: Yes, one of the things I’ve been trying to get through my journey through the court process is to find out from police: “Okay, you’re not going to release documents that detail what your theory is now. But give me and the public the first six weeks when it was considered murder-suicide, and let’s see who you talked to and what made you arrive at that wrong conclusion.” There is jurisprudence out there that says media and the public can have access to other theories once they are debunked. I’ve not won that one but am working on it. The true public interest in this—and why media are interested—is “Did our municipally funded force make some mistakes? If so, it’s something that needs to be looked at? Right now, we have the chief of police saying: “My officers did a great job.”