Two of Toronto's most high-profile private investigators, both retired homicide detectives, have been retained by lawyer Brian Greenspan to probe the suspicious deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman.
Friday marks two weeks since police taped off the Shermans' mansion on a quiet cul de sac in north Toronto, after the bodies of the billionaire couple were found hanging from a railing by their basement indoor swimming pool.
The investigation is continuing and, amid intense speculation about what led to the couple's deaths, police have not provided any updates since Dec. 17 when they revealed that the couple both died of "ligature neck compression."
Mr. Greenspan, a high-profile Toronto defence lawyer, was hired by the family to conduct a second independent investigation into the deaths, he says, "to provide a second lens and to ensure that no stone is left unturned."
He confirmed Wednesday that private investigators Michael Davis and Tom Klatt, who once worked together in the homicide unit of the Toronto Police Service, are part of his team on this case.
Both Mr. Davis and Mr. Klatt – who have separate private investigation firms – declined to comment Thursday, referring all inquiries to Mr. Greenspan.
Until the family home is released by police, the team does not have access to conduct its own forensic examination. Police have not provided a timeline for when they expect to be finished. Mr. Greenspan declined to comment on the status or nature of his team's work at this stage.
Dave Perry, another Toronto-based private investigator, expects they would be doing preliminary work as they wait to examine the Shermans' house.
"Could they be doing interviews? Possibly. Could they be talking to people? Possibly," Mr. Perry said.
"But what they're probably more involved in doing [at this stage] … is trying to assist the family in understanding what, if anything, the police are telling them at this particular time."
A source close to the family said a second autopsy was conducted on the couple's bodies before they were buried, a fact reported by numerous media outlets in recent days. A spokeswoman for the Office of the Chief Coroner, Julia Noonan-Savage, told The Globe and Mail last week that she could not speak about the Sherman case, but said that families of the deceased are free to arrange an independent autopsy. In such cases, the outside examiner would typically assess the body in the same facility where the original autopsy took place.
The family could then decide whether to disclose the second examination to investigators. "The family does not have to share their report with the investigating coroner though they may wish to," she added.
Earlier in the week, neighbours on stately Old Colony Road said officers had come by asking if they'd seen anything suspicious, and looking for street-facing surveillance footage. Inside and outside the 12,000-square-foot home, officers have been combing the property – checking everything from the roof of the mansion to the sewers nearby. A Lexus SUV was seen being towed from the garage.
Mr. Perry said that it is not abnormal for police to take two weeks searching a scene of this size – and profile.
"You keep a scene until all of your work is done. In some cases, your work can be done in a few hours, or a few days, or a few weeks," he said. "Based on what we've heard and what we know, I would call this normal. It's certainly not outside the realm of being normal."
Mr. Sherman, the founder of the generic drug-maker Apotex – one of Canada's largest pharmaceutical companies – and his wife, Honey, were found by their realtor on Dec. 15, in their home which was up for sale. There was no sign of forced entry in the house. The deaths are being treated as "suspicious."
Several media outlets, including The Globe, quoted police sources early on in the case as saying the leading theory was murder-suicide – sparking outrage from the couple's adult children, who released a statement about the leaks.
"We are shocked and think it's irresponsible that police sources have reportedly advised the media of a theory which neither their family, their friends, nor their colleagues believe to be true," the statement said, urging police to conduct a thorough investigation.
A memorial service for the philanthropist couple last week drew 6,000 mourners. Toronto Mayor John Tory – who delivered remarks at the service – has acted as a conduit for the family, relaying concerns to police about how they communicated information about the billionaire couple's death.
The Shermans were worth an estimated $5-billion. They were leaders in the business and philanthropic communities, and were active political fundraisers. Mr. Sherman was also famously litigious: Apotex was founded in 1974 and has been frequently involved in lawsuits with brand-name drug companies and rival generic manufacturers.