Toronto Police on Sunday evening released the cause of death of Jewish billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife Honey and said homicide detectives had taken over the investigation, but did not provide any further details.
In a brief statement quoted by The Canadian Press, police said the couple, whose bodies were found on Friday, both died from "ligature neck compression".
"That is what the post-mortem indicates and that is the terminology that they give us," Const. Michelle Flannery said when asked to elaborate on findings from autopsies performed over the weekend.
Police also said homicide detectives have taken the lead on investigating the deaths, which have been classified as "suspicious."
The statement contained no other details, except to formally identify the Shermans as the two people found dead in a Toronto home on Friday, noted CP.
Previously, police refused to confirm the identities, although they had been identified by a number of political and business leaders.
Sherman, 75, was the founder of pharmaceutical giant Apotex. He founded the company in 1974 and grew it into the largest Canadian-owned drug company.
Sherman’s wife, Honey, was a member of the board of the Baycrest Foundation and the York University Foundation. She served on the boards of Mount Sinai’s Women’s Auxiliary, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the International American Joint Distribution Committee.
The Shermans were well-respected in both the Canadian Jewish community and beyond, and were among Canada's most generous philanthropists. They made numerous multimillion-dollar donations to hospitals, schools and charities and had buildings named in their honor.
After their bodies were found on Friday, there were some reports that police were investigating a possible murder-suicide. Those reports were never confirmed and the family pushed back against them.
“Our parents shared an enthusiasm for life and commitment to their family and community totally inconsistent with the rumors regrettably circulated in the media as to the circumstances surrounding their deaths,” the family said in a statement, which was circulated on Saturday night through Apotex.
“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,” they added.
The family called for a “thorough, intensive and objective criminal investigation” and urged media to “refrain from further reporting as to the cause of these tragic deaths until the investigation is completed.”