Toronto Star

Shermans’ son told police people ‘would have a reason to hurt them’

Newly unsealed documents include portions of interviews with slain couple’s children


In the days after they were found dead, Barry and Honey Sherman’s son, Jonathon, told police there were people who had a reason to “hurt” his parents, according to newly released police documents.

“Jonathon says that his parents were complicate­d people and that there are people out there who would have a grudge against them and would have a reason to hurt them,” according to police notes of a statement Jonathon Sherman gave to police on Dec. 23, 2017, the week after the Sherman bodies were discovered. In this first of two statements Jonathon gave to police over a two-day period, he describes his father as “complicate­d, brilliant, lacking in emotional and social intelligen­ce, unfiltered but genuine.” Jonathon describes his mother as “smart, abrasive, high energy, in your face and blunt, but not in an evil way.”

Who he suggests might have had reason to kill his parents remains under seal. His three siblings (and Sherman friends who are interviewe­d) also suggest “persons of interest” who might be responsibl­e for the murders in their statements to police and the identity of those people also remains under seal.

Jonathon’s statement is part of a series of police interviews released Thursday by Justice Leslie Pringle of the Ontario Court of Justice as part of the Star’s ongoing attempt to bring scrutiny to the now three-year-old homicide investigat­ion, which began as a murder-suicide probe. Police say they have interviewe­d 250 people to date, but only one person in the past 13 months.

Barry, 75, and Honey, 70, were found dead on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017. Post mortems determined they died of ligature neck compressio­n. They were killed two days earlier. A realtor discovered their bodies in a “semi-seated” position in the basement pool room of their north Toronto home. Black belts looped around their necks and “tied” to the low railing surroundin­g part of the pool kept them from falling back into the water, the police documents reveal.

Toronto homicide detectives say the case is “active,” though only one officer (Det. Const. Dennis Yim) is assigned full time, primarily to prepare search warrant applicatio­ns and analyze the results. Det. Sgt. Brandon Price and other officers work on the case as well, court heard.

The statements of the Sherman children are included in applicatio­ns for search warrants police used to access the cellphone, banking and other records belonging to Barry and Honey. The statements (these are police notes of statements) had been completely sealed for three years (including the name of the individual interviewe­d, and the date of the interview) until it was pointed out during cross examinatio­n by a Star reporter this week that police were inconsiste­nt in what was still sealed — the statements of Mary Shechtman, Honey’s sister, and her son Matthew were unsealed two weeks ago. Police and Crown attorney Peter Scrutton then consented to release portions of the Sherman children’s statements, and those of other family members.

Documents filed in court by police reveal that the still-sealed portions of the Sherman family members’ statements include sections where they point fingers at various “persons of interest.” The Star argued in court Thursday that the police have blacked out the identity of so many “persons of interest” mentioned by family and friends of the Shermans that it appears the case is akin to Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” where there were multiple suspects for a murder. The Star has argued that after three years of investigat­ion, the police should have narrowed their focus.

Justice Pringle will rule on any further releases at a later time. Pringle told court Thursday she is not going to “rubber stamp” the police decisions on what should remain sealed.

For now, the available documents give a window into the tumultuous (according to the children) Sherman home life.

Barry and Honey had four children, Lauren, now 45, Jonathon, 37, Alexandra, 34, and Kaelen, 30. Previously the Star has reported that the four children are the main beneficiar­ies of the multibilli­on-dollar pharmaceut­ical and business empire Barry built, valued by insiders at $10 billion. The Star has also reported that there are rifts between various family members.

The police documents show that all four children were interviewe­d by police during the 10-day period after the investigat­ion began.

This was during a time when police actively considered the possibilit­y that

Barry killed Honey, then himself.

In Kaelen’s interview, the youngest Sherman child says her “parents would never do anything to harm each other nor would they have killed themselves.” She does, however, tell police that when she was a youngster, “she did not think that her parents were very close or that they were in love with each other.” She says her mother was “upset that Barry was always working late hours at the office.” In recent years, she says her parents were “becoming closer.”

Police also interviewe­d Jared Render, who at the time was Kaelen’s fiancé. Render tells police Barry is very generous and is paying for the entire wedding (Kaelen and Jared were married and divorced in the space of six months, after the Sherman funeral.) Render says he had become close to the Shermans through Kaelen, and Barry helped him get a job working as an electricia­n for his pharmaceut­ical firm Apotex and also helped Honey out with home technical issues.

“Render says he had gone into (the Shermans’) bedroom a few times to look at the (Amazon) fire stick when it wasn’t working. Render gave the password to his Netflix (and) Honey sent an email saying she loved it,” a police statement reads.

Render also says the Sherman family “begged” Barry to install security cameras in the house on Old Colony Road, but Barry “was never afraid of anything.”

He tells police, in his interview two weeks after the murders, that he was aware the bodies were found near the swimming pool, but that to his knowledge Barry and Honey never went down there and that the pool was “green.”

Lauren Sherman, the eldest daughter, who lives in British Columbia where she is a counsellor and yoga instructor, tells detectives her “parents were pillars of the community and really lovable people.” Still, she describes a difficult upbringing.

“When Lauren was growing up her parents were the swearing and screaming type but they never got physical,” the detective records Lauren saying on Dec. 22, 2017. “Over time, her parents sorted out their issues and in the past five years they were seen walking around holding hands.”

Lauren’s statement describes Honey as charitable, “gregarious,” and someone who “made friends with everyone and never had a beef with anyone.” Barry, she says, “was likeable but not social.” She says her father “liked solving problems and he got a PhD in rocket science from MIT at 24 years old.” She says he liked “making friends and working in pharmaceut­icals.”

Lauren tells police “the idea her parents committed suicide is ridiculous as they are a very wealthy family.” (At one point, police had considered double suicide as a possibilit­y.) Lauren also says they were “a good family even though she did not realize it when she was a child because she fought with them a lot.”

According to Lauren, one source of tension related to the lack of interest she and her brother had in the family business. “Lauren states that (Barry) had always wanted herself and her brother Jonathon to succeed him and take over the company but they did not.”

In Jonathon’s interview, he describes his father’s busy work life, noting he has an office in the Apotex building and meets with his father “once every one or two weeks to have lunch.” Jonathon, who with partner Adam Paulin runs Green Storage, a business funded by Barry Sherman (as the Star has previously reported.) He tells police that in the previous five years he had “made an effort to step back from the family business.”

While most of his police interviews focus on Barry’s work life (or is redacted because it would reveal “persons of interest” Jonathon identifies), police do at one point ask him if he knew his parents’ habit when they arrived home. “Jonathon does not know if his parents took their shoes off when going into the house.” Other people interviewe­d by the police were also asked this question. The documents do not explain why police are asking, though it is possible it relates to specific details of how the Shermans were dressed when they were found.

The police records show Jonathon is again interviewe­d the next day (Dec. 24, 2017) but that statement is blacked out in its entirety because it “identifies potential persons of interest,” police documents reveal.

Police also interviewe­d daughter Alexandra (Alex) Sherman and her husband Brad Krawczyk. (The couple have since separated). In her interview, Alex is asked about shoes and she says her mother wore a pair of “black slip-on shoes” in the house and outside the home.

In her interview, Alex tells police that “Apotex was (Barry’s) life, he was always there and he loved all his employees.” She says her father was “smarter than anyone” and her mother was “a strong personalit­y, loud, outgoing and loving.” Like her sisters, she notes that her parents relationsh­ip was “difficult” while she was growing up, with her father always at work and her mother “parenting.” She says that with the birth of grandchild­ren (she and Brad have two) her parents were “more in love and not arguing ... and were caring towards their grandchild­ren.”

As the Star has previously reported, Alex had arranged for Honey and Barry to come to her house in Forest Hill for a Hanukkah dinner on the Friday night, (the evening of the day the bodies were eventually found.)

In these interviews, both Alex and Brad provide details of their contact in the last few days with Barry and Honey. (This informatio­n is not in Jonathon, Lauren and Kaelen’s interviews, or at least not in the now public version of those interviews.) Alex tells police the last contact she had with her mother was an email at 8:16 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017 (the night before the murders.) This email was in relation to the planned Hanukkah dinner.

Her husband Brad, who said he works at Apotex in his interview, says he had lunch with Barry that same Tuesday. He recalled to police that he and Alex sent text messages with photos of the grandchild­ren to Honey on the Thursday and “got no response.”

“Brad had also called Barry on Thursday morning with a work related question and got no response,” police state in the documents.

In his statement, Brad (like many others who spoke to police) mentioned Barry’s generosity.

“Brad says that Barry was a quiet, friendly, generous and not overly affectiona­te father-in-law who bought Brad’s brother a house and Brad’s mother a million-dollar savings bond,” reads his police statement.

From time to time, Toronto Star reporters represent the paper in court, typically to request access to closed court proceeding­s and sealed documents. In the situation described in the above story, Chief Investigat­ive Reporter Kevin Donovan represente­d the Star in court in its applicatio­n to unseal police search warrant materials related to the ongoing Barry and Honey Sherman murder investigat­ion.

 ?? MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTA­TION ?? Barry and Honey Sherman are shown in Ministry of Transporta­tion driver’s licence photos included in search warrant materials released by the Ontario Court of Justice.
MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTA­TION Barry and Honey Sherman are shown in Ministry of Transporta­tion driver’s licence photos included in search warrant materials released by the Ontario Court of Justice.

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