Billionaire couple Barry and Honey Sherman were targeted and their deaths are now being investigated as a double homicide, Toronto police revealed Friday afternoon.

Police made the announcement at a news conference exactly six weeks after the couple was found deceased in their North York home on Old Colony Road.

They were found with belts around their neck that were attached to a railing located on the deck of their swimming pool, located in the home’s basement. They were fully clothed and in a semi-seated position. An initial autopsy found the two died of ligature neck compression.

Homicide Det.-Sgt. Susan Gomes told reporters at a news conference Friday morning that the couple was last seen alive in the evening hours of Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017 and had not made any contact with family, friends or associates after that. Their real estate agent reportedly found the couple dead the morning of Friday, Dec. 15, 2017 at around 11:44 a.m.

She said since then, “thousands of hours” have been spent on the investigation so far and that detectives have executed search warrants for electronic evidence at Barry Sherman’s pharmaceutical company Apotex where he was chairman and CEO.

Four terabytes of surveillance footage has also been seized from area businesses and homes, each containing 500 hours of footage.

So far, 127 witnesses have been interviewed, but the list of people that detectives still need to speak with is growing, she said.

“We believe now, through the six week work review, we have sufficient evidence to describe this as a double homicide investigation and that both Barry and Honey Sherman were in fact targeted,” she said.

She refused to comment on possible suspects or motives in the case but said police had captured “images of people in the neighbourhood.”

“We will continue to focus exclusively on evidence with whatever resources are necessary,” she added. “We ask anyone to come forward with anything they may think is valuable to the investigation.”

Police had told media outside the couple’s home the day they were found dead that they were not looking for any suspects but treating their deaths as suspicious.

Soon afterwards, media outlets quoted anonymous police sources saying investigators believed they were dealing with a murder-suicide.

The Sherman’s family spoke out against this claim and promptly hired their own team of private investigators as well as former Chief Forensic Pathologist Dr. David Chiasson.

Gomes said Friday that from the start, investigators were open-minded as they considered the evidence before them.

“The integrity of every homicide investigation is paramount,” she said. “Facts guide our focus. Conjecture and speculation have no place. Each of the three manners (double suicide, homicide-suicide and double homicide), the options provided to us, were all equally considered as the evidence presented itself.”

She said the family was finding it difficult to “balance their patience with their frustration with us and our investigation.”

“They are not unlike any other family who has suffered such a sudden and profound loss,” she added. “They have been understanding, cooperative and hopeful that this investigation can give them some answers.”

Last week, the Toronto Star reported that those private investigators concluded that the Shermans were both murdered, citing a second autopsy conducted by Chiasson that found the victims’ hands were bound.

Gomes refused to comment on the report or discuss the nature of any evidence that led them to the conclusion that the couple was murdered.

The Sherman family released a written statement after police held their news conference, saying they “anticipated” this outcome.

“The announcement by the Toronto Police Service that the tragic deaths of their parents are being investigated as a double homicide was anticipated by the Sherman family,” the statement said.

“This conclusion was expressed by the family from the outset and is consistent with the findings of the independent autopsy and investigation.

“The family continues to support the Toronto Police Service in their efforts to seek justice for their parents and pursue those responsible for these unspeakable crimes.”

Toronto police were seen leaving the Sherman household Friday morning, taking down yellow tape from the crime scene.

Police had been guarding the scene for more than a month.

Private investigators hired by the Sherman family were also at the scene Friday morning putting up their own tape around the property as they prepared to enter the home for the first time.

Barry Sherman was named Canada’s 15th richest person in Canada, with a stated fortune of $4.77 billion (CAD). Apotex, which he co-founded in 1974, is one of Canada’s largest drug manufacturers.

He and his wife were known for their philanthropy, donating tens of millions of dollars to charities, including UJA, Baycrest, United Way, and Mount Sinai Hospital.