The mysterious deaths of a wealthy Canadian couple have inexplicably become part of American conspiracy theories involving the Clinton Foundation and even Pizzagate.
Barry and Honey Sherman's bodies were found in their Toronto mansion on Dec. 15, 2017, by a real estate agent. The police deemed the deaths "suspicious" and are still investigating. Private investigators hired by the family say they were murdered by a team of killers, according to reports by the Toronto Star and CBC.
Their deaths led to an outpouring of sympathy from many prominent Canadians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who attended the couple's funeral in December. Barry Sherman was the founder of Apotex, Canada's largest generic drug maker.
So what does their murder have to do with the Clintons? Nothing, according to current information from police and the family's own investigators. But a conspiracy theory is being spun thanks to the fact that Apotex previously donated medicine to aid initiatives linked with the Clinton Foundation in Haiti and elsewhere. Those same relief projects included many other companies.
Thanks to that old and tenuous connection, the Shermans' deaths became fodder for right-wing claims about the "Clinton body count." According to this decades-old conspiracy theory, the Clintons have ordered the deaths of dozens of people who allegedly had incriminating information about them or stood in their way. And as is true of conspiracy theories more generally, new events are continually distorted to fit the preexisting narrative — no matter how flimsy the logic.
As Snopes.com has exhaustively detailed, there is absolutely no credible evidence for the Clinton body count conspiracy theory.
This week, the notoriously unreliable right-wing blog the Gateway Pundit published a post heavily implying the Shermans had been murdered due to their work with the Clinton Foundation.
Despite citing the Clintons in the headline, however, the only mention of the foundation came in the final two sentences, which said that Apotex had donated medicine to aid efforts in Haiti, Rwanda, and Puerto Rico through Clinton Foundation initiatives.
Although there had been blog posts and social media chatter about the latest alleged victims of the Clinton murder spree before then, the Gateway Pundit post gave the claim its widest exposure yet. The post has received tens of thousands of Facebook engagements since it was published on Jan. 21.
Jim Hoft, the editor of the site, did not directly respond to BuzzFeed News' questions about what evidence he had linking the Shermans' deaths to the Clintons.
"It's a horrible criminal act. My heart goes out to the family and loved ones," he said.
Hoft then referenced recent reports about the FBI investigation into Clinton's private email server.
"I should not have said those things about Hilllary [sic]," he said. "She has enough stress with the release of the FBI text messages this week that prove their investigation of her criminal actions was a sham. Maybe she will be held accountable for a few of her crimes after all? We will see."
The conspiracy theory about a Clinton connection to the deaths has now spread to numerous other right-wing blogs, websites, and social media accounts, some of which routinely promote conspiracy theories.
Citing the Gateway Pundit, the Next News Network — a kind of low-rent InfoWars — claimed that "the Clinton body count increased by two" as a result of the Sherman deaths. A video featuring Next News Network founder Gary Franchi spreading the conspiracy theory has already racked up more than 12,000 views.
Other places have gone even further, with one blog post tying other conspiracy theories into the death of the Shermans. "This has to do with Pizzagate," claimed the writer, referencing the false claim that prominent Democratic politicians ran a child abuse ring out of the basement of a pizza restaurant.
Toronto police have said little about the investigation, and declined to comment for this article. But there is absolutely no evidence that the Shermans were ever in any disputes with the Clinton Foundation or with the organizations' namesakes.
The Sherman family has already pushed back against public speculation about the case. After some anonymous police sources suggested to reporters that the deaths were a case of murder-suicide, the family slammed the rumours as "simply absurd."
BuzzFeed News reached out to Apotex and the Sherman family's lawyer for comment.