December 21, 2017 / 2:42 PM / 2 months ago

REFILE-Canadian billionaires to be celebrated at memorial after mysterious deaths

(Corrects date in dateline to Dec 21 from Dec 20)

By Anna Mehler Paperny and Matt Scuffham

TORONTO, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Thousands are expected to attend a Thursday memorial service for Canadian pharmaceuticals billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife, Honey Sherman, whose bodies were found in their Toronto mansion last week in a mysterious case that has shocked the nation.

Their deaths, which are under investigation by Toronto’s homicide squad and have been described as suspicious, have drawn condolences from Canada’s elite, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is expected to attend the memorial.

Barry Sherman, founder of generic pharmaceuticals company Apotex Inc, and his wife, Honey, were found by a real estate agent on Friday morning, hanging by belts around their necks from a railing beside a swimming pool in their home, a friend close to the family told Reuters.

Canadian newspapers reported on Saturday that investigators were working on their theory that Barry Sherman killed his wife and hanged himself. Family and friends have said they do not believe that theory and called for police to launch a thorough investigation into the deaths.

“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 couple’s four children said in a statement late Saturday.

Homicide detectives took over the investigation on Sunday, though Toronto Police have not formally designated it a homicide case. There are no suspects in custody and police have not said if they are looking for any.

There were no signs of forced entry to the Shermans’ home, according to police.

The friend was adamant that Barry Sherman could not have killed his wife.

“The side door of their house was always open,” said the person who asked not to be named. “Anyone could just walk in.”

The two won awards for their philanthropy, giving millions of dollars to hospitals, universities and Jewish organizations.

Barry Sherman was known as a driven executive who put in 12-hour days on behalf of the company he built into one of the world’s largest generic-drug makers.

Honey Sherman, described as vivacious and sociable, drove to South Carolina with her friends on a golfing road trip the week before her death, the friend said. (Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny and Matt Scuffham; Editing by Jim Finkle)

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