The family of a Canadian billionaire and his wife who were found dead in the basement of their Toronto mansion have refuted reports which suggest their parents’ deaths could have been a murder-suicide.
Police have said they are treating the deaths of Barry Sherman, 75, the founder of Canadian drug company Apotex, and his wife Honey as “suspicious”.
“Our parents shared an enthusiasm for life and commitment to their family and community totally inconsistent with the rumours regrettably circulated in the media as to the circumstances surrounding their deaths,” a family statement read.
“We are shocked and think it’s irresponsible that police sources have reportedly advised the media of a theory which neither their family, their friends nor their colleagues believe to be true.”
The family have asked police to conduct a “thorough, intensive and objective criminal investigation” into their parents’ deaths and have urged the media to avoid speculating.
The couple’s bodies were discovered by an estate agent who was setting up an open house for the luxury property, which had recently been put up for sale for $6.9m Canadian dollars (over £4m).
Called to the house to attend a “medical complaint” at around midday on Friday, officers said they found no signs of forced entry to the home.
Homicide detective David Hopkinson said: “The circumstances of their death appear suspicious and we are treating it that way.”
Two bodies covered in blankets were later seen being removed from the house.
One of the nation’s wealthiest couples, they had given tens of millions of dollars to hospitals, universities and Jewish organisations and were fundraisers for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party.
In response to the news of their deaths, Mr Trudeau tweeted: “Our condolences to their family & friends, and to everyone touched by their vision & spirit.”
Mr Sherman had set up the pharmaceutical company Apotex in 1974, stepping down as chief executive in 2012 but remaining executive chairman.
Lawsuits from family members, alleging they were cut out of their share of the company back in 1967, had dogged Mr Sherman for decades.
Calling the deaths “tragic”, Apotex tweeted to say everyone at the company, which employs around 16,000 staff worldwide, was “deeply shocked and saddened”.
Forbes magazine estimated Mr Sherman’s personal net worth at $3.2bn (£2.4bn), making him the 15th richest Canadian.
“We are at a loss of words,” neighbor Sarah Alva said.
“They are both the most wonderful people we knew and our hearts goes out to their families.”
Post-mortem examinations are under way.
The couple leave behind four children.