December 21, 2017 / 5:21 PM / a year ago

REFILE-UPDATE 1-Canada pays tribute to billionaire couple after mysterious deaths

(Corrects date in dateline to Dec 21 from Dec 20)

By Anna Mehler Paperny and Matt Scuffham

TORONTO, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Thousands of Canadians attended a memorial service for Toronto pharmaceuticals billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife Honey Sherman on Thursday, less than a week after news of their mysterious deaths shocked the nation.

The service was attended by Canada’s elite, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who expressed condolences after the unexpected news they had been found dead in their home.

Their son, Jonathan, told the crowd that the family was frustrated by the lack of information on an investigation by the Toronto homicide squad, and Canadian media reports that said police were working on the theory that Barry Sherman, 75, had killed his 70-year-old wife.

“We’ve had to navigate through a terrifying maze of non-information and unfounded speculation. This has been surreal,” Jonathan Sherman said before beginning an emotional tribute to his parents.

Barry Sherman, founder of generic pharmaceuticals company Apotex Inc, and his wife were found on Friday by a real estate agent, hanging by belts around their necks from a railing beside a swimming pool in their home, a friend close to the family told Reuters.

Throngs of people filled most of a hall in a Toronto suburb with a capacity of 7,500. Many identified themselves as employees of Apotex by dressing in blue, the company’s corporate color.

Homicide detectives took over the investigation on Sunday, a day after the family issued a statement complaining about their handling of the case. Police have not formally designated it a homicide, no suspects are in custody and police have not said if they have any persons of interest.

The two won awards for their philanthropy, giving millions of dollars to hospitals, universities and Jewish organizations.

Barry Sherman was known as a driven executive who put in 12-hour days on behalf of the company he built into one of the world’s largest generic-drug makers.

Honey Sherman, described as vivacious and sociable, drove to South Carolina with her friends on a golfing road trip the week before her death, the friend said. (Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny and Matt Scuffham; Editing by Jim Finkle and Tom Brown)

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