Podcast News

New podcast shines a light on the lives — and deaths — of billionaire couple Barry and Honey Sherman

Kathleen Goldhar hosts this 8-part series about a murder investigation gone cold, a community in shock, and a family torn apart by unimaginable wealth.

Available wherever you get your podcasts starting February 20th

A photo of host Kathleen Goldhar and the logo for the new podcast series "The No-Good, Terribly Kind, Wonderful Lives and Tragic Deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman."
Kathleen Goldhar, left, is the host of the new true crime podcast series The No-Good, Terribly Kind, Wonderful Lives and Tragic Deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman, a Lionsgate Sound and CBC Podcast co-production. (CBC Podcasts)

It's been just over five years since billionaire couple Barry and Honey Sherman were found dead in their Toronto home — their necks fastened with belts tied to a railing. To this day, the circumstances around their murder remains a mystery.

Barry, the founder and CEO of generic drug manufacturer Apotex, was one of Canada's richest people. Honey was a philanthropist, serving on the boards of numerous charities. The mystery of their deaths has led to rampant public speculation. Some believe it was a business deal gone wrong, or a hit job ordered by a Big Pharma rival. Others contend the murders were likely personal — closer to home.

The No-Good, Terribly Kind, Wonderful Lives and Tragic Deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman, a new 8-part podcast series by CBC Podcasts and Lionsgate Sound, is an investigation into the incredible rise and mysterious fall of this extraordinary couple.

"They were very complicated people who had reputations, personalities that were very polarizing within themselves," host Kathleen Goldhar told CBC Podcasts.

The series features people who knew the Shermans well, and even the words of Barry himself, read by actor Saul Rubinek. While the crime remains unsolved, the series explores different theories around their deaths and offers listeners a chance to come to their own conclusions.

Goldhar spoke with CBC Podcasts about the podcast. Here's part of that conversation.

This case was in the news five years ago and it was well-covered. Why did you decide to investigate it now in this podcast? 

KG: It was in the news five years ago, but it really has never left the news, right? 

People are fascinated by this couple and their deaths. I mean, they are billionaires. People are always curious and fascinated by wealthy people. That's why the TV show Succession is so interesting, right? 

We knew it was coming up on the five year anniversary. The police are nowhere closer to finding out what happened to this couple than they were that day that they died ... and I think as a journalist who's interested in public good, having a police investigation that hasn't figured this out is important to shine some light on. 

But also, just as somebody who lives in the city, who's in the Jewish community, who is also fascinated by wealth, I'm fascinated by how their family has fallen apart and what it means to have that kind of money. And then when you die, there are so many potential suspects. What kind of life do you have to have lived that that many people could've wanted you dead?

Barry Sherman — it seems like there's more to him than what meets the eye. Throughout this production, what have you learned about him that really surprised you?

KG: Barry got caught up in things. He got punished by the FDA in the U.S. and things like that for problems within his company. The generic drug world is this fascinating underworld, where there's billions of dollars, and then you come up against Big Pharma, which is trillions of dollars. So that was really interesting, just to sort of better understand what he did, but also just how important generic drugs were. You cannot take away that generic drugs saved people all around the world. 

Barry Sherman, 75, was the founder and CEO of generic drug manufacturer Apotex. His wife, Honey, 70, was a well-known philanthropist. Their deaths in 2017 have attracted international attention because of the bizarre circumstances surrounding their deaths, and due to the couple's well-known multimillion-dollar gifts to charities in Canada and abroad. (Handout provided by Alex Krawczyk)

I also didn't realize just how antisocial he was and how much of the social world that they lived in was driven by Honey. And I didn't know how obsessive he was over his business and how a lot of people say that his family relations, his friendships went by the wayside. Nothing was more important than the business and I find that interesting. He was a savant. He was an incredibly smart man ... but maybe to his detriment. 

Barry was more well known — he did make all the money — but Honey was her own person and there really wasn't enough on Honey. And we did a whole episode on Honey as best we could … but Honey seems to be diminished in a lot of this. And I don't think that's particularly fair. I think there is a gendered-ness that goes into why that's the case. 

You also have Barry's unpublished autobiography. Those are in the podcast, as well as emails from family and friends. Can you share with us more about that, maybe something that was shocking or eye-opening to you, in his words? 

KG: He's a terrible, dry writer. But, you know, he says in his book, 'I'm going to focus on business and politics, not really my family, because I think people reading this would be more interested in my work than my family,' which is not true. I wish he had done more. 

We have actor Saul Rubinek being Barry. I do a lot of true crime [podcasts] and the sad part is that a lot of times you focus on people who aren't able to be part of it because they're dead. And so this way we do feel like we at least have Barry in the podcast. 

And I don't know if this is surprising because I think I knew this going in, but it's very clear that he was what I have started to call an aggressive atheist. And he would fight with people about their belief in God. He could not wrap his head around anybody's stance — intelligent people's beliefs in anything beyond just human beings existing — and so he really goes into that in the book.

Can you take us through some of the theories around Barry and Honey Sherman's deaths? 

KG: There is the idea that maybe he pissed somebody off or pushed somebody too far. A lot of people talk about Big Pharma, and we speak to a guy who worked as a spy for Big Pharma who was actually sent to spy on Barry. And we talked to him about the possibility that Big Pharma maybe put a hit out on him. 

Then we looked at family. Nobody specific but certainly there is a lot of money to be had and a lot of people wanted it. And it's well known that Kerry Winter, his cousin who didn't get access to his money, was angry about that and he admits that he was a suspect but the police have cleared him. 

Toronto Police held a press conference on Dec. 13, 2021 to ask for the public's help identifying a suspect caught on video walking near the Toronto home of Barry and Honey Sherman the night they were murdered. (Mark Bochsler/CBC)

Then there's the crazy, wild conspiracies that even involved Hillary Clinton. That there was, you know, [theories] getting to the generic drug world and the Clintons' work with AIDS in Africa and some weird confluence of crazy circles that connected them. And you know what happens on the Internet…. next thing you know, Hillary Clinton had them whacked. 

So which of these theories are you leaning towards? And why?

KG: I'm not going to say. I don't know. I really don't know. 

What we do is we re-explore the idea of murder suicide, because that was the original theory from the police. And we do ask, why was it dismissed? We don't know enough about why that was dismissed. These are the men and women homicide cops that went in and saw the bodies for the first time, made that call, or at least indicated they were making that call. Six weeks later, the police changed their mind after the family hired their own investigative team, did a second autopsy. We don't know what happened behind the scenes, but we can imagine there was a lot of pressure. Something was happening. 

So we speak to experts about the way autopsies and things are done, and the bias that goes into those autopsies, and how can one autopsy see something that the other one doesn't.

Kathleen Goldhar holds a microphone while she interviews Aubrey Dan. They stand in front of a wall looking at framed items.
Host Kathleen Goldhar interviews businessman Aubrey Dan for the podcast "The No-Good, Terribly Kind, Wonderful Lives and Tragic Deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman." (Lisa Gabriele)

This remains an unsolved murder case. What do you think needs to happen in order to bring closure to the friends and family, as well as those who have been following along closely?

KG: I don't really believe in closure. They lost their parents. They're not going to have closure. Sure, it'd be nice if the police found out who did it, if in fact it wasn't murder suicide. That would be the end of it. If you ask me if I think that's going to happen, in my heart I don't think so.

A lot of times things don't get solved because there weren't the right resources that went into it, or let's say it's racial bias that the police go in with, or whatever. These were a wealthy, white, middle-aged couple. The police investigated. The children spent — I can't imagine how much money went into the second investigation. They've now offered $35 million to solve it. This is not a resource or a systemic bias police problem. The police might have screwed up going into the investigation, quite possibly. But I don't think it's going to get solved. 

This Q&A was edited for length & clarity. Produced by Mehek Mazhar.