For the last three and a half years, five days a week, Detective-Constable Dennis Yim of the Toronto police homicide squad sits at his computer, either at police headquarters or his home due to pandemic restrictions. He starts early in the morning, puts in his shift, repeats the next day, looking through data and documents for a proverbial needle in a haystack.
He’s the lone full-time investigator on the high-profile murders of billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman.
Friday, Yim revealed during a court hearing regarding sealing orders on case documents that Toronto Police have held steadfast to a single “theory of the case” since four months after the murders. There are related “branches” of the theory they are also probing and having for now exhausted many domestic avenues they are looking overseas for information on the Toronto murder.
“There is one theory of the case but it is like branches of a tree. There is one main theory of the case but it can branch off into different avenues we have to explore,” said Yim, adding they are “related.”
Where are you in the Sherman investigation? Yim was asked Friday during a court hearing.
“Sometimes I feel like I am playing football blind,” Yim told the Ontario Court of Justice during cross-examination by a Toronto Star reporter, who represented the publication in its application to unseal police search warrant materials.
“I don’t know if I am at the one-yard line, or in the middle of the field. It’s hard to answer that question. Something could happen tomorrow that would change my answer. It’s dynamic and it’s still active. I would have to predict the future to answer that question and I can’t do that.”
Barry, 75, the founder of Apotex, and his wife Honey, 70, were strangled to death in their north Toronto home on Dec. 13, 2017 roughly between the hours of 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. Their bodies were discovered by a realtor two days later, situated in a strange tableau in their basement swimming pool room, held in a seated position by belts looped around their necks and tied to a low railing.
Yim has been a detective for 15 years. A few days after the bodies were discovered, he was plucked from general investigative duties at a local police division and seconded to the elite homicide squad. At the time, police strongly considered it to be a double suicide or murder suicide, and it was not ruled a double murder for six weeks. In the early days, dozens of detectives worked the case. For more than two years, it has been Yim working solo under the direction of Detective Sergeant Brandon Price of the homicide squad. While Price assists him from time to time, Yim told court he is the primary investigator. He said the case is a priority for Toronto police, a force that investigates 70 to 90 murders each year.
The growing Sherman case file is enormous — 180 gigabytes, not to mention 4 terabytes of video surveillance collected from cameras in the area and on highways and roads. Duties that Yim labels “investigative actions” are multiplying. Six months ago, 746 of these actions had been completed with 115 outstanding. Now, 848 have been completed with 115 still to go and more added each week.
Speaking generally, investigative actions could be anything from reviewing a batch of tips to applying for judicial permission for a search warrant to reviewing the data that comes from a previous court application — cell phone records and banking records are among the information that has been obtained. Not everything is obviously important, and during cross examination Yim said that of the 637 tips police have received on a dedicated tip line launched in 2019, some have been repeats, some have been from psychics and none have been remarkable.
“Are you familiar with the term, ‘many hands make light work,’” Yim was asked during cross-examination, given that there are thousands of officers on the Toronto Police Service.
Yim said he has heard the phrase and…