A lawyer for the family of Barry and Honey Sherman, who were found hanged in their Toronto home last month, says a police statement that there were "no signs of forced entry" invited the public to wrongly conclude it had been a murder-suicide.
"It's simply absurd," Brian Greenspan said in an interview.
Police were quoted in initial news reports as saying they had not observed any signs of a forced entry to the Shermans' sprawling home on Old Colony Road, and that, at least at that point, indications were that there was no outstanding suspect beings sought.
And police have not released new information since then on whether the investigation has turned up any signs of an intruder entering, forcibly or otherwise. Police have called the deaths suspicious.
Mr. Greenspan said the police at the time of the initial statement knew nothing about the Shermans' security concerns or their habits, such as whether they opened the door when people knock.
"You have to know a lot more before that becomes meaningful and before that becomes public. Because the public may draw from that an inference that is just wrong and misleading."
Mr. Greenspan has been assisting the family, which has hired former homicide investigators Tom Klatt and Michael Davis to conduct a separate investigation. He said he has no new information from the police. "We've not engaged in discussions about the ongoing investigation." He also said he is not prepared to comment on the police investigation or on the family's separate investigation at this time. He declined to say whether evidence had been found in an autopsy conducted by a pathologist hired by the family that supported the family's view that a double-homicide had taken place.
Mark Pugash, a spokesman for the Toronto Police Service, declined to respond to Mr. Greenspan's comments.
Mr. Sherman was the billionaire founder of Apotex Inc., a generic drug company that employs 11,000 people around the world. He was 75, and Ms. Sherman was 70. A real estate agent found them near the indoor pool in their suburban home on Dec. 15. The Globe and other media outlets reported that police sources said investigators were pursuing an early theory the case was a murder-suicide.
The couple's adult children later released a statement calling the police irresponsible for advising the media of a theory that friends, family and colleagues believe to be false. Police have said that an autopsy conducted by the coroner's office revealed that the couple died of "ligature neck compression," or strangulation with a rope or cord.
Rod Buckingham, a former cold-case detective with the Regina police, said that "no forced entry" means a forensic investigation found no indication of anything like a door being broken down or forced open, locks tampered with, windows or skylights pried open or venting removed.
"Once it is established that there is no forced entry, the investigators will either confirm or eliminate the possibility that someone entered by some other surreptitious means and I expect they have been reviewing any persons with access by key, alarm code, hidden keys or other sophisticated entry methods (depending on what physical security safeguards are in place)," Mr. Buckingham, the president of Buckingham Security, said in an e-mail.
Mitchell Dubros, chief executive officer of the Toronto-based Investigation Hotline.org, a private investigation and detective agency, which is not working with the family, said that "no signs of forced entry" is information of little value.
"It means nothing," he said. "Any professional can pick a lock."