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Sherman family's lawyer offers $10M reward, slams TPS handling of murder case
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Friday, October 26, 2018 5:35AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 26, 2018 7:47PM EDT
A team of private investigators assembled by the family of Barry and Honey Sherman to investigate the pair’s deaths found “failings and deficiencies” in the Toronto Police Service’s handling of the case and is now offering a $10 million reward for information that leads to an arrest.
Family lawyer Brian Greenspan told reporters that their own investigation found Toronto cops “failed to follow best practices” regarding handling the scene where the bodies of the billionaire philanthropist couple were found, and basic statements about the circumstances of the case are just plain wrong.
“(Police) failed to properly check points of entry to home,” Greenspan said. “If they did, they would have found evidence that contradicted the theory that there was no forced entry.”
The Shermans were found dead in their mansion on Old Colony Road in North York last December 15, in what police called a targeted double homicide one month later.
Greenspan said the family decided to embark on a private parallel investigation after anonymous police sources initially told media outlets the deaths were being treated as a murder-suicide.
Their concerns were later compounded by admissions during monthly briefings with officers where it was once revealed several months went by without officers conducting any interviews for the case.
Private investigator Tom Klatt said the Toronto police detectives handling the case had also failed to eliminate obvious sources of fingerprints in the Sherman’s home from the investigation.
“Some of the domestic staff of the home had not yet been fingerprinted well into the investigation,” Klatt said.
Greenspan said a total of 25 palm and fingerprints they believe the police missed in their initial sweep were handed over to Toronto police last May.
The family has set up a dedicated toll-free tip line to receive information that went live today.
The Canadian toll-free number is 1-833-668-0001 and the international number is 011-905-849-7373.
Greenspan said he had at various times suggested and sought to form a “public-private partnership” in the case, with the private investigators and police sharing information they obtained.
So far, he says that has not occurred.
“I have no idea whether they know what we know – we have certainly offered to them what we know,” he said.
Speaking later on Friday, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders defended the conduct of his officers.
“This investigation has been done to a very high level of professionalism and expertise,” he said, adding up to 50 officers were involved in the case, 2,000 hours of video footage had been recovered and a six-week long search was conducted inside the Sherman’s home.
When asked if investigators could have done better, he said yes, but no more so than any other homicide investigation.
“I can tell you being involved in homicide investigations over and over again, I can take every single case that I have done and there are things that I could have done better. So the generic answer to that is yeah.”
“Could you be a better person tomorrow, sure.”
Responding to specific elements of the criticism levelled at the service by Greenspan, Saunders said the private team assembled by the Sherman family does not have all of the facts.
“There are very few people who have the entire investigation – Mr. Greenspan does not have the entire investigation.”
For its part, the Police Services Board issued a statement expressing support for Saunders.
"Based on the information provided to the Board by the Chief, the Board has full confidence in the Chief’s oversight of this investigation, including the Toronto Police Service’s ability to ultimately identify the perpetrators."
Tips received through the line will be evaluated by a panel made up of Matthew Torigian, Dr. Peter Collins and Frank Addario
Torigian is a former Waterloo Regional Police Chief and ex-deputy Ontario minister of corrections and community safety. Collins is a forensic psychiatrist often called in to consult with homicide detectives throughout the world. Addario is an award-winning criminal defence lawyer and vice-president with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
Greenspan has also asked Saunders to appoint a police officer to be part of the panel.
The family decided to offer the reward as a way to coax someone who may be deep in the criminal underworld into sharing what they may have heard about the Sherman’s deaths.
“Many, many investigations are concluded as a result of someone either in a criminal organization or someone who has been involved as an offender in the criminal community. They are aware of info from friends or colleagues in that community,” Greenspan said.
“And until and unless an incentive is provided to that person either through leniency in a subsequent prosecution or the offer of a significant reward, they remain silent.”