Toronto billionaire, wife found dead; Police call deaths 'suspicious'

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Investigators are awaiting the results of autopsies performed on Apotex founder Barry Sherman and his wife Honey before determining next steps in the ongoing probe into their suspicious deaths, police said Saturday.

In a statement, Apotex said Sherman grew the company from its "humble" roots to become a successful pharmaceutical firm with 6,000 employees in 21 sites across Canada.

Tributes poured in from prominent Canadians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, after the sudden deaths of billionaire pharmaceutical executive Bernard "Barry" Sherman and his wife shocked the country's corporate and political worlds.

Mr. Sherman's net worth was recently estimated to be $4.77-billion by Canadian Business, an online magazine, making him the 15th-richest person in Canada.

Hopkinson said police were called to the Shermans' home in an upscale neighbourhood of north Toronto just before noon on Friday in response to a "medical complaint".

Homicide detective David Hopkinson said: "The circumstances of their death appear suspicious and we are treating it that way".

The Shermans recently listed their home for sale for almost C$7 million ($5.4 million).

Despite the police withholding the identities of the bodies, many friends of the couple and a number of officials confirmed the news of their death.

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Hopkinson would not confirm that the bodies are of Barry Sherman and his wife Honey Sherman. The Toronto Police homicide unit is collaborating with the investigation in case it ultimately takes over, he said.

"I am beyond words right now", Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins said in a tweet. The couple were found in their home, which was up for sale.

Apotex released a statement on Saturday paying tribute to its founder, praising both his philanthropic efforts and what it described as his vision for health care.

"Today I am gutted by the loss of Honey and Barry Sherman".

Sherman was born in Toronto, Canada in 1942 and was the youngest to ever enter into the University of Toronto's Engineering Science program at age 16.

Sherman has also been an active philanthropist, including donating $50 million to the United Jewish Appeal.

The couple has been well-known for the philanthropy they carried out, giving tens of millions dollars to hospitals, Jewish organizations and universities, reported local television. She said that she last saw them two weeks ago, when they had an open house - and could not imagine anything like this happening to a pair she described as the "best neighbours" and the pride of the neighbourhood. The couple also had four children. "Toronto Police are investigating and I hope that investigation will be able to provide answers for all of us who are mourning this tremendous loss".