As the lawyer leading a team of private investigators looking into the murders of Honey and Barry Sherman gets set to announce new efforts to catch the couple’s killers today, a Toronto real estate agent is revealing new details about finding the couple’s bodies last December.
The agent was touring the Sherman’s mansion with wealthy Chinese clients when they came across two bodies in the basement pool area of the home.
Their first reaction?
“This is a joke, something left over from Halloween,” recalled the agent yesterday who spoke twice with CBC News, first in English, then in his native Mandarin, to help verify the details of that horrific day last December.
The agent, who was working for the prospective buyers and not the Shermans’ family, has requested CBC News not identify him as the Sherman’s killer or killers have yet to be caught.
The agent said he and his clients were surprised at what they saw, and couldn’t believe the bodies were actually real.
“It was a couple of days later,” he said, when he learned from the news that the Shermans were actually dead.
“It was scary,” he recalled.
His clients were upset too after finding out what they’d really seen.
“They were angry,” he recalled. The agent described them as being from mainland China and superstitious. They worried witnessing such a sight was a harbinger of bad things to come.
Barry Sherman, 75, was the founder of drug manufacturer Apotex. His wife Honey, 70, was a well known philanthropist. Together, the couple donated tens of millions of dollars to charities.
Their bodies were found in the basement pool area of their home on December 15, 2017.
Fake murders … Halloween
On that cool winter day last December, the agent recalled arriving at the Sherman’s home on Old Colony Road — an affluent neighbourhood in north Toronto — with his clients, before their scheduled viewing appointment.
The mansion was listed for $6.7 million.
The agent said a person cleaning the home let them in and allowed them to wait inside. A short time later, another agent representing the Sherman’s arrived.
They began touring the 12,000-square-foot mansion.
After starting on the main floor, they walked upstairs to see more of the massive home. The last part of tour involved the basement pool area.
“My clients weren’t really interested in the pool,” recalled the agent, but they went to have a look anyway.
They stopped outside the pool and looked inside.
“We could see through the large glass door,” said the agent. Several metres away, they saw something unusual.
The bodies “were on the steps leading to the pool,” he told CBC News.
“What’s with these rich people … who does this?” he recalled thinking. He says neither he nor his clients decided to enter the pool area to take a closer look.
The agent says he and his clients thought they had stumbled across some kind bizarre Halloween display or a joke.
“Fake murders,” is how he initially described it.
They soon left the property, refusing to believe what they saw inside the multi million dollar home could actually be real.
Not long after, it’s believed the other agent called 911 to report the find.
Not looking for any suspects
CBC News has previously reported that police found the Shermans in the basement pool area. They were seated side-by-side, legs straight out. Their necks were bound with belts to an approximately 1 metre tall railing leading to the pool. There were markings on their wrists suggesting one, or both, may have been bound at some point.
Within hours, Toronto police told the media that there were no signs of forced entry to the home. They also said they were not looking for suspects.
The statements suggested police believed Mr Sherman may have killed his wife before taking his own life.
That didn’t sit well with the Shermans’ children or with many who knew them well.
The family issued a public statement challenging the initial police version of events.
They also hired a team of elite private investigators including retired homicide and intelligence detectives from the Toronto Police Service, as well as a former forensics expert from the Ontario Provincial Police, to conduct their own, parallel investigation.
The team is lead by Toronto lawyer Brian Greenspan. Greenspan is expected to hold a news conference Friday and announce dramatic new efforts to help find the killer or killers.
As for police, they haven’t said anything about the case since January, when they announced the Shermans were both murdered, even targeted. No arrest have been made.
Why did police wait to interview some key witnesses?
The real estate agent confirmed with CBC News, that it was “at least a week or two” after police first started investigating the Shermans’ deaths before they reached out to him and his clients.
The agent says he was eventually interviewed at a local police division and agreed to provide investigators with the shoes he was wearing when he’d been inside the Shermans’ home days earlier.
CBC News reached out to Toronto police to ask why investigators seemingly waited for up to two weeks before interviewing potentially key witnesses who were inside the Sherman home around the time their bodies were discovered.
Toronto Police spokesperson Meaghan Gray said those are details the service cannot discuss.
Police will have more to say later today after Greenspan’s news conference, Gray said.
The Toronto police probe is continuing.
The agent says police contacted him again recently asking him to come in for fingerprinting. However, he hasn’t yet been told when or where that will happen.
He declined to provide the names of the clients who were inside the home with him, but said police know who they are. The agent believes the couple has been encountering health issues, but has since purchased another home in Toronto through a different agent.
John Lancaster can be reached at 416-205-7538 or at firstname.lastname@example.org