CHICAGO Jan 18 The body of a man who died from
cyanide poisoning shortly after winning a $1 million lottery
prize was exhumed on Friday from a Chicago cemetery and major
organs and stomach contents tested, authorities said.
The findings from the tests on Urooj Khan, 46, will not be
known for several weeks as authorities try to determine how the
cyanide was introduced into his body, said Mary Paleologos, a
spokeswoman for the Cook County Medical Examiner.
"The body was in an advanced state of decomposition, but
nevertheless, doctors were able to retrieve samples from his
organs and also stomach contents, which is very key if he
ingested the poison," Paleologos said.
Khan died on July 20 without a will, and his estate was
mired in a legal battle in the probate division of Cook County
Circuit Court. A judge on Jan. 11 granted investigators
permission to obtain the additional forensic samples.
A tent was erected over the burial vault in the cemetery,
and Khan's body and other potential evidence were removed on
Friday morning. The autopsy was completed by noon.
Investigators are trying to determine if the cyanide was
ingested, injected or inhaled, Paleologos said. Khan will be
reburied on Monday, she said.
Khan's death initially was ruled to be caused by heart
disease, and no autopsy was performed. Toxicology results
indicated no drugs or carbon monoxide present.
But several days after his body was released for burial, an
unidentified family member asked the medical examiner to revisit
the case. The medical examiner's office ordered comprehensive
toxicological testing of samples already in its possession.
Final tests results confirmed in November that there was a
lethal level of cyanide in Khan's blood, according to the
medical examiner, which ruled his death a homicide.
Chicago police are investigating the death as a murder.
Khan presented his winning ticket to the lottery on May 31
and chose a lump-sum payment of about $424,500 after taxes. A
check was sent to him from Springfield, Illinois, on July 19 or
July 20, so it was unlikely he ever saw it, a spokesman for the
Illinois Lottery said.
Khan, his wife, Shabana Ansari, and his daughter from his
first marriage, Jasmeen Khan, gathered on June 26 at the store
where he bought the ticket, according to the lottery.
The state of Illinois has placed a freeze on the lottery
check, which Ansari is refusing to turn over to the estate,
according to court filings by the administrator.
(Reporting by John Gress in Chicago and David Bailey in
Minneapolis; Editing by Greg McCune)