Toronto police obtain nine new search warrants in Sherman murder investigation

Toronto police detectives probing the murders of billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman have obtained nine more search warrants in the last month.

The warrants — police will not reveal what they were seeking or where the warrants were served — were authorized in the four weeks prior to a Sherman family press conference last week that criticized Toronto police for a shoddy investigation and announced a $10 million reward.

The new warrants suggest police may be ramping up their investigation into the pair’s killing.

According to court records obtained by the Star and statements made by Toronto police, detectives have obtained a total of 37 warrants and production orders since the probe began. Warrants allow police to search locations such as a house or business, production orders are for records maintained by banks and cellphone companies.

At least one warrant was served outside of Canada, but police and courts will not release details of where.

The Shermans owned property in Florida.

Barry Sherman was the founder of Apotex, Canada’s largest generic drug firm. He and his wife Honey were major donors to Jewish and other charities in Canada.

The couple was last seen alive on the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Their bodies were discovered the following Friday morning by Sherman family real estate agent Elise Stern, who was showing prospective buyers and their agent the home on Old Colony Rd.

The Shermans were found near a lower-level pool. They had been strangled and pulled into a seated position, each with a man’s leather belt looped around their neck and fastened to the metre-high railing that surrounds the rarely used lap pool.

Police pursued a theory of murder-suicide for six weeks, before ruling it a “targeted” double homicide on Jan. 26. That came after police reviewed the results of a second autopsy conducted by David Chiasson, Ontario’s former chief forensic pathologist, who had been hired as part of a private investigation launched by the Shermans’ four children.

That investigation was meant to provide a second “lens” to look at the case, said family lawyer Brian Greenspan, who is leading a team of private detectives and forensic experts.

Toronto police were invited to attend that autopsy, but declined and only interviewed Chiasson after a Star story revealed his findings.

Last Friday, Greenspan and his private team, most of them former homicide cops, slammed Toronto police for what they say were failures in the investigation — locks at the home not checked for tampering, fingerprints and palmprint evidence not taken from the scene, and carpets not vacuumed to obtain minute evidentiary traces.

The team also announced a $10-million reward and a tip line directing callers not to police but to the family’s experts. Greenspan has told Toronto media that calls have been coming in, though he would not say how many.

While the police will not speak about what they have done on the case, the Star has learned some information about a series of search warrants and production orders authorized by Justice Leslie Pringle, the judge who has reviewed more than 220 pages police have submitted for warrant approval.

At the beginning of the investigation, police filed warrants for such things as the Sherman couple’s health records. Sources close to the investigation have told the Star police were seeking information that one or the other was depressed. Friends interviewed by the Star say the Shermans were both in good spirits the day they died and both were making plans for family events and winter trips together.

Police also sought information on two airline loyalty programs, cellphone records and details of bank accounts at three financial institutions, although Pringle has sealed the identities of the account holders in each of these warrants.

Apotex was also served with a warrant, and in the early days of the investigation police complained they were having difficulty getting information out of the often secretive company.

Pringle has sealed much of the information in the more recent warrants and production orders, saying she is concerned that revealing these details would jeopardize the investigation.

One law enforcement official connected to the case said these most recent warrants are “too specific” to be made public — an indication that detectives may be pursuing a theory on the identity of the killer or killers.

The Star is arguing in court to unseal this information.

Immediately following the Greenspan press conference, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said he has had to be careful with what he said about the case because he knows “for a fact” that the Shermans’ killers are watching his televised remarks, adding he was perturbed that Greenspan released some information related to the case.

Saunders said he was particularly bothered with some of the specific comments Greenspan made at the press conference about the crime scene. At the press conference, Greenspan described to reporters how Barry Sherman was found seated with one leg crossed over the other “in a passive manner,” with his eyeglasses “undisturbed” and his jacket pulled slightly back — a position the lawyer said refuted the theory of a murder-suicide. These details have already been published in accounts by the Star and other media, say people close to Greenspan’s team.

Chaisson’s post-mortem made it clear the Shermans were “were both murdered and that the Toronto Police Service should not have drawn any conclusion which suggested self-inflicted injuries,” Greenspan said at the news conference.

In his response, Saunders said Greenspan was incorrect. “Toronto police service never reached a premature conclusion. This investigation has been done to a very high level of professionalism and high level of expertise,” he said, adding that he believes the case will be solved.

“It’s not over yet. We are continuing to work very hard to reach the conclusion we think we can reach with the help of the public.”

A timeline of known search warrants and production orders in the Sherman murder case

There have been 37 search warrants and production orders obtained by Toronto Police in the Sherman case, according to court records, Chief Saunders and police spokesperson Meaghan Gray. Below are the date and location of the majority of them, according to court records obtained by the Star through a legal challenge. Justice Pringle has sealed almost all of the documents, with the exception of a few general search locations — she has, for example, allowed the identity of the bank to be known, but not the account holder.

Dec. 15, 2017: The Shermans’ bodies are discovered in their home

Dec. 20: Two production orders for Rogers Communications cellphone records and one warrant for a Toronto police storage locker on Jane St., where evidence from the crime scene was briefly kept

Dec. 20: A search warrant, address sealed

Jan. 10, 2018: Four search warrants, one for a police storage locker, the other locations sealed

Jan. 1: Production order served on Ontario Ministry of Health for Barry and Honey Sherman’s “billing records and records of visits to hospital and clinics” between December 2010 and Dec. 16, 2017 — the day after they were known to be dead

Jan. 15: Production order to retrieve materials in locker #51 at 33 Division, likely containing evidence officers seized from the Sherman house

Jan. 15: Production order served on Apotex, no details released on what police were seeking

Feb. 15: Production order served on LoyaltyOne Co., which operates the AirMiles loyalty rewards program, no details released on the account holder

Feb. 15: Production order served on Aimia, owner of the Aeroplan loyalty rewards program, no details released on the account holder

Feb. 15: Production order served on Office of the Chief Coroner to retrieve some medical records of the Shermans earlier obtained by the coroner under a Coroner’s Warrant

Feb. 15: Three Production orders served on BMO Financial Group, CIBC and TD Bank, no details released on the account numbers or holders

April 16: Four judicial authorizations granted, police will not say if warrants or production orders

June 27: Two judicial authorizations granted, police will not say if warrants or production orders

Sept. 23: One judicial authorization, police will not say if warrants or production orders

Between Sept. 23 and Oct. 26: Nine judicial authorizations, either warrants or production orders

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