Barry Sherman had $372 in his wallet when he died. Honey Sherman’s wallet was stuffed with $7,500, possibly from a visit to an ATM shortly before she was killed.
Sources say cash discovered at the crime scene explains why a homicide detective went to great lengths to calm fears in the neighbourhood shortly after the bodies were found. It was unlikely their deaths were a break-in gone wrong.
That’s when detectives went down the murder-suicide theory route, which lasted until the Toronto Star published results of second autopsies describing the deaths as a double homicide.
Today, the Toronto Star launches a new investigative podcast, the Billionaire Murders, the hunt for the killers of Honey and Barry Sherman.
This multi-part series, with exclusive content available early for Star subscribers, takes a deep look at one of the most shocking unsolved crimes in Canadian history. Over the past five years, the Star has interviewed friends and family; unsealed thousands of search warrant documents and estate files through court challenges; and obtained hundreds of email conversations between the Shermans and others. The case remains unsolved, with Toronto homicide detectives now looking for evidence in three countries.
It’s been more than five years since the Sherman bodies were discovered on the deck of their basement swimming pool room. That day, Friday, Dec. 15, 2017, a realtor touring clients through the home (on sale for $6.9 million) came upon the Sherman bodies. “Somebody has killed my clients,” she told the 911 operator.
The Sherman neighbourhood, in the Bayview Avenue and Highway 401 area of Toronto, had seen 160 break-ins in the previous year. Millions of dollars worth of jewelry and other valuables were stolen. No violence had been reported, but in some cases thieves entered homes when homeowners were inside.
Even the Sherman home had been a target the previous year. Thieves went in through a skylight and took some valuables.
“That community was incredibly alarmed,” former Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders later told reporters. There was a community meeting less than two weeks before the Shermans died and police suggested neighbours band together and hire a security company to patrol the streets, and individuals purchase home security systems. One community leader told the Star there was “real pushback” from homeowners who did not want to fund private security and instead wanted police to step up patrols.
When the realtor discovered the Sherman bodies and called 911 late that Friday morning, police, fire and paramedics raced to the home. They discovered the Shermans in a reclined position, seated on the pool deck, belts looped around their necks, tied to a low railing above, keeping them from falling backward into the pool. The Star has viewed the crime scene photos and this story includes a depiction of the scene by Toronto Star artist Susan Kao.
The Star’s ongoing investigation has shown that police and forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Pickup, who also attended the scene, were unsure of the manner of death. This uncertainty would last for six weeks.
The local Toronto officers present were aware of the rash of break-ins. But as they looked around the Sherman’s 12,000-square-foot home there were no obvious signs that someone had looted the place. Officers quickly found both Sherman wallets (sources say Honey’s, containing $7,500, was in the kitchen near where she entered the home) and spotted the cash. They also noticed two iPads in the Shermans’ bedroom, Honey’s iPhone in a powder room she never used, and Barry’s BlackBerry on the basement floor near where he entered the house from the underground garage. The Star does not know where Barry’s wallet was. It contained $372, credit cards and loyalty cards.
This discovery of cash and portable valuables, along with the growing theory that this might be a murder-suicide, likely factored into Detective Brandon Price’s comments to the assembled throng of reporters later that night.
“I just wanted to alleviate some concerns in the neighbourhood. At this point, indications are that we have no outstanding suspects to be going after,” said Price, then the officer who was second-in-charge of the fledgling Sherman probe. Det. Sgt. Susan Gomes, the lead officer, did not attend the crime scene. Price would take over the case a year later.
As the Star has reported, Toronto Police missed what experts later said were the clear signs of double murder (the Sherman wrists had been bound and a thin ligature used on the necks to strangle them — none of the ties found at the scene).
As to the large amount of cash found in Honey’s wallet, friends have suggested she may have withdrawn money for holiday tips for staff who work at the home, including housekeepers, the gardener and physical therapists.
Police documents unsealed through the Star’s ongoing court action reveal that police seized video from the ATM camera at CIBC at Bayview Village. Honey was at Bayview Village before coming home that Wednesday night, having gone there to shop for Hanukkah presents for grandchildren. She was scheduled to leave for Florida the following Monday, with Barry following the next week.
Toronto Police said this week the case is “ongoing” and police would not be commenting on the Star story or other information unearthed in the five-year investigation. Through a recent court hearing, the Star learned that police are seeking information in three countries that they hope will help them crack the case. Police have refused to identify the countries or reveal what they are seeking. The process, which requires contact between justice officials in Canada and the foreign countries could take a year or more, the Star has been told by police.
Listen to the Billionaire Murders podcast here, or at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts. Toronto Star subscribers will also get exclusive early access to behind-the-scenes bonus episodes. If you are not a subscriber, use promo code PODCAST to save 10% on an annual subscription at thestar.com/subscribe.