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Entries in cyanide (8)

Saturday
May042013

Pa. Doctor's Parents: 'She Could Not Have Harmed Herself'

Hemera/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) -- Investigators have not yet confirmed the cause of a death of a prominent Pennsylvania neurologist whose autopsy revealed she had "toxic levels of cyanide" in her system, but her parents spoke out against the possibility that their daughter's death was a suicide.

"We cannot imagine someone harming our daughter, but from what we're told, she could not have harmed herself," Dr. Autumn Marie Klein's parents, William and Lois Klein told ABC News in a prepared statement.

Klein, 41, collapsed at her home in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood and later died on April 20 at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, where she was chief of the division of women's neurology and an assistant professor of neurology, obstetrics and gynecology.

The FBI is working to assist the Pittsburgh police in the investigation, but said suicide has not been ruled out as Klein's cause of death.

While authorities said Klein's husband, Dr. Robert Ferrante, was not named a suspect in his wife's death, police executed a search warrant overnight to case the couple's home, which they shared with their six-year-old daughter, Cianna.

Investigators removed three vacuum cleaners and a computer tower and towed the couple's cars as neighbors still worked to process Klein's sudden death.

"We were stunned," Blithe Runsdorf told ABC's Good Morning America. "I mean she was young, she was vibrant, she has a young daughter. We were just stunned."

Klein worked at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. Her husband, Dr. Robert Ferrante, 64, is a professor of neurological surgery at University of Pittsburgh.

A private investigation into Klein's death has also been launched, with prominent forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht at its helm.

"I have been privately retained, but I'm not able to give you any more information. But I have been privately consulted in this matter," Cyril Wecht told ABC News when asked if he was retained by Dr. Robert Ferrante or his attorney.

Neither Ferrante nor his attorney responded to requests for comment.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May022013

PA Doctor Died with 'Toxic Levels' of Cyanide in Bloodstream

Hemera/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Pa.) -- An accomplished and well-respected Pennsylvania doctor who suddenly collapsed in her home had "toxic levels of cyanide" in her bloodstream, according to police.

Autumn Marie Klein, 41, collapsed at her Oakland, Pa., home and died on April 20 after being taken to UPMC Presbyterian, where she was chief of the division of women's neurology and an assistant professor of neurology, obstetrics and gynecology.

The medical examiner has not determined an official cause of death, but police are saying she had high levels of cyanide in her blood. Cyanide is "a rapidly acting, potentially deadly chemical that can exist in various forms," as defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Our homicide division is conducting a death investigation of a female UPMC member where she was found at the time of her death with toxic levels of cyanide in her bloodstream and we're continuing to work with the medical examiner's office to determine the definite cause and manner of her death," Lt. Kevin Kraus of the Pittsburgh Police Department told ABCNews.com.

Kraus said he could not comment on the interviewing of any witnesses because the investigation is ongoing.

When asked if the case has been classified as suspicious, Kraus said, "Not at this point."

Klein was married to Robert Ferrante and had a daughter named Cianna, who is 6.

Klein's mother, Cook Klein, 79, lives in Towson, Md., and could not imagine anyone wanting to hurt her daughter.

"I don't know of anybody that would have a reason to try to hurt her," she said. "I wouldn't think so though because of the type of person she was."

"She was just a wonderful human being and a fantastic mother," an emotional Cook Klein said. "She was a person that cared for everybody. She was an absolutely wonderful mom. There was nothing about her that anybody would not like."

Cook Klein said her humble daughter was not one to talk much about her many accomplishments, but had been passionate about science from a young age.

"She always considered herself a geek that had her nose in a book," she said. "She was interested since the seventh grade in biology class. She knew from then on what she wanted to do and she was just great at what she did."

Cook Klein said her daughter had been selected by the American Academy of Neurology as one of the 10 most promising neurologists in the country and that three people at the funeral home told Cook Klein that they were working on publications with Klein. The three had traveled from Ohio, Florida and Canada to be at the funeral.

When Cook Klein got word of her daughter's death she and her husband were preparing to travel to Pennsylvania to babysit the daughter while the parents went out of town for a medical event. Cook Klein was packing her suitcase late the night before she was set to leave when she said Ferrante called her.

"Bob was saying something had happened to Autumn and he was there in the house by himself with Cianna," Cook Klein said. "He had called 911 and they had taken Autumn to the emergency room."

Cook Klein said she was initially told her daughter may have suffered a stroke.

When she heard about the cyanide, her first concern was her granddaughter and who would pick her up from school if police needed to speak to her father. Cook Klein said police told her that Cianna was with her father.

She said her young granddaughter "just knows her mommy isn't home."

Klein's husband Robert Ferrante could not be reached for comment.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar012013

Confirmed: $1 Million Lottery Winner Was Poisoned with Cyanide

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock

(CHICAGO) -- The Cook County Coroner's office in Illinois confirmed at a press conference Friday that the lottery winner who mysteriously died in July was in fact the victim of cyanide poisoning.

Urooj Khan, 46, died on July 20 at his home in Chicago, one month after he was announced the winner of a million-dollar jackpot. Khan, who emigrated from India and owned a dry cleaning business, had opted for the $425,000 lump sum cash payment.

The medical examiner's office initially believed he had died of natural causes. It wasn't until after he was buried that his brother asked the office to conduct further tests. After examining fluid samples, the office found a lethal level of cyanide and Khan's death was declared a homicide.

Khan's body was exhumed on Jan. 18 and the autopsy exam was conducted that day.

Adding intrigue to the story is a legal battle among Khan's siblings and his widow over his assets. Custody over his teenage daughter from a previous marriage was given to his sister.

Last month, his widow, Shabana Ansari, and her attorney said they have documents that indicate a portion of his dry cleaning business should go to Ansari in the event of his death, which would give her two-thirds of his estimated $2 million estate.

On Friday, Dr. Stephen Cina, the Cook County medical examiner said the autopsy did not produce any new clues, but confirmed the initial test results after Khan's brother called with his concerns, ABC's WLS in Chicago reported.

His family members said he was healthy. Before he died, he enjoyed a celebratory meal with family members at home.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan092013

Wife of Poisoned Lotto Winner: 'I Want the Truth to Come Out'

Ann Cutting/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The wife of a $1 million Chicago lottery winner who died of cyanide poisoning told ABC News that she was shocked to learn the true cause of his death and is cooperating with an ongoing homicide investigation.

"I want the truth to come out in the investigation, the sooner the better," said Shabana Ansari, 32, the wife of Urooj Khan, 46.  "Who could be that person who hurt him?"

"It has been an incredibly hard time," she added.  "We went from being the happiest the day we got the check.  It was the best sleep I've had.  And then the next day, everything was gone."

Ansari, Khan's second wife, told the Chicago Sun-Times that she prepared what would be her husband's last meal the night before Khan died unexpectedly on July 20.  It was a traditional beef-curry dinner attended by the married couple and their family, including Khan's 17-year-old daughter from a prior marriage, Jasmeen, and Ansari's father.

Not feeling well, Khan retired early, Ansari told the paper, falling asleep in a chair, waking up in agony, then collapsing in the middle of the night.  She called 911.

Khan, an immigrant from India who owned three dry-cleaning businesses in Chicago, won $1 million in a scratch-off Illinois Lottery game in June and said he planned to use the money to pay off his bills and mortgage, and make a contribution to the St. Jude Children's Research Center.

"Him winning the lottery was just his luck," Ansari told ABC News.  "He had already worked hard to be a millionaire before it."

Khan's unexpected death the month after his lottery win raised the suspicions of the Cook County medical examiner.  There were no signs of foul play or trauma so the death initially was attributed to arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease, which covers heart attacks, stroke or ruptured aneurysms.  The medical examiner based the conclusion on an external exam -- not an autopsy -- and toxicology reports that indicated no presence of drugs or carbon monoxide.

Khan was buried at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.

However, several days after a death certificate was issued, a family member requested that the medical examiner's office look further into Khan's death, Cook County Medical Examiner Stephen Cina said.  The office did so by retesting fluid samples that had been taken from Khan's body, including tests for cyanide and strychnine.

When the final toxicology results came back in late November, they showed a lethal level of cyanide, which led to the homicide investigation, Cina said.  His office planned to exhume Khan's body within the next two weeks as part of the investigation.

Melissa Stratton, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Police Department, confirmed it has been working closely with the medical examiner's office.  The police have not said whether or not they believe Khan's lottery winnings played a part in the homicide.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan082013

Body of Lotto Winner Who Died of Cyanide Poisoning to Be Exhumed

Ann Cutting/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- The body of the $1 million Chicago lottery winner who died of cyanide poisoning will be exhumed within the next two weeks, said Cook County Medical Examiner Stephen Cina.

The exhumation is needed to complete the investigation into Urooj Khan's death, which the medical examiner ruled a homicide last November.

Last June, Khan, 46, won $1 million in a scratch-off Illinois Lottery game, and said he planned to use the money to pay off his bills and mortgage, and make a contribution to St. Jude Children's Research Center.

But Khan died unexpectedly on July 20. The suddenness and unexpectedness of Khan's death brought it to the attention of the Cook County medical examiner.

Because there were no signs of foul play or trauma, the medical examiner's office initially attributed the death to arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease, which covers heart attacks, stroke or ruptured aneurysms. An external exam -- not an autopsy -- was performed and toxicology reports indicated no presence of drugs or carbon monoxide.

Khan was buried at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.

But several days after the death certificate was issued, a family member called and requested that the medical examiner's office look further into Khan's death, said Cina.

"In response to the family member's concern, the ME's office ordered comprehensive toxicological testing, including screens for cyanide and strychnine," according to a statement from the Office of the Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

"As a matter of routine, we take body fluid samples, even with our external exams: urine, blood and bitreous fluid from the eye. We keep them for a certain period of time," said Cina. "Tests for cyanide and strychnine were run on the blood samples after the relative expressed concern of foul play. These are not routine tests."

Cina said he could not disclose the identity of the family member or other details of the phone call because of the ongoing investigation.

"If or when this goes to court, it would be nice to have all the data possible," Cina said about the exhumation.

Cina said when the final toxicology results came back late last November, they showed a lethal level of cyanide, which led to the homicide investigation.

Melissa Stratton, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Police Department, confirmed it had been working closely with the medical examiner's office.

Khan is survived by his wife, Shabana Ansari, 32, and a teenage daughter. The family owned three dry-cleaning businesses in Chicago.

Ansari told the Chicago Tribune that Khan was "the best husband on the entire planet," and "extraordinary, nice, kind and lovable."

Ansari could not be reached by ABC News for comment.

The police are not confirming whether Khan's lottery winnings played a part in the homicide.

When asked why cyanide, a chemical asphyxiant that binds to red blood cells and prevents the entry of oxygen, was not found in the initial examination of Khan's body, Cina said, "Quite frankly, it's unusual as a cause of death, so it's not at the top of your mind."

He said about 50 percent of people can smell cyanide, but it is more noticeable when the body is opened up.

Sometimes the coloring of blood changes with cyanide poisoning after death, becoming "more reddish than purple," he said.

"In this case that wasn't particularly striking," Cina said, describing the first examination of Khan's body.

"It strangles your red blood cells at a biochemical level," he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan072013

Body of Lotto Winner Who Died of Cyanide Poisoning Likely to Be Exhumed

Ann Cutting/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- The body of a $1 million lottery jackpot winner will likely be exhumed from Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, according to the Cook County medical examiner, who determined that the winner died of cyanide poisoning.

Last June Urooj Khan, 46, won $1 million in a scratch-off lottery game, or $425,000 after taxes, but he died unexpectedly on July 20. Since there were no signs of foul play or any cause for suspicion, his death was attributed to arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease, which covers heart attacks, stroke or ruptured aneurysm.

But a few days after the death certificate was issued, a family member called the medical examiner's office and asked that the death be investigated, said Dr. Stephen Cina, Cook County's chief medical examiner. Cina said he could not disclose the identity of the family member because of the ongoing investigation.

"We are in discussion with the state attorney about whether we are going to do an exhumation. Right now, we are leaning in that direction. We have a cause and matter of death on the books, and we're comfortable with that," Cina told ABC News. "If or when this goes to court, it would be nice to have all the data possible."

Cina said the final toxicology results came back in late November showing a lethal level of cyanide, which led to the homicide investigation. Melissa Stratton, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Police Department, confirmed a murder investigation had been "under way," and that the police department had been working closely with the medical examiner's office.

Khan is survived by his wife, Shabana Ansari, 32, and teenage daughter. The family owned three dry-cleaning businesses in Chicago.

Ansari told the Chicago Tribune that Khan was "the best husband on the entire planet" and "extraordinary, nice, kind and lovable."

Ansari could not be reached by ABC News for comment.

The police are not confirming whether Khan's lottery winnings played a part in the homicide.

When asked why cyanide, a chemical asphyxiant that binds to red blood cells and prevents the entry of oxygen, was not found in the initial examination of Khan's body, Cina said, "Quite frankly, it's unusual as a cause of death, so it's not at the top of your mind."

He said about 50 percent of people can smell cyanide, but it is more noticeable when the body is opened up.

Sometimes the coloring of blood changes with cyanide poisoning after death, becoming "more reddish than purple," he said.

"In this case that wasn't particularly striking," Cina said, describing the first examination of Khan's body.

"It strangles your red blood cells at a biochemical level," he said.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul112012

Ariz. Courtroom Death: 'Cyanide' Evidence Points to Suicide

KNXV/ABC News(PHOENIX) -- Arizona authorities have obtained a canister labeled "cyanide" from the car of a businessman who apparently poisoned himself in a courtroom after he was found guilty of arson. Still, a cause of death has yet to be determined.

The Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office is awaiting toxicology results to determine what, if any, substances Michael Marin ingested moments after a jury convicted him of burning down his Phoenix mansion.

"The body tells us the story," medical examiner spokeswoman Cari Gerchick said today. "We reserve any kind of determination of cause and manner until everything is complete."

Marin, 53, was convicted June 28 of purposefully burning down his $2.55 million mansion in the tiny Biltmore Estates neighborhood of Phoenix after he was unable to keep up with mortgage payments and a plan to raffle his house through a charity fundraiser failed. He faced up to 16 years in prison.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio Tuesday said Marin's son received a delayed email hours after his trial, informing him of how to handle his affairs if things went poorly in court and where to find his car.

Arpaio said at a news conference that records indicated Marin purchased the cyanide powder in 2011 before the start of his trial. He speculated the convicted arsonist made capsules he could swallow in the courtroom from the cyanide powder.

"I don't know what his motive was to go public and allow the whole world to see," Arpaio said at the news conference, ABC affiliate KNXV reported. "He committed suicide in front of the cameras in the courtroom for the whole world to see."

Cameras captured Marin's descent toward death. Moments after the verdict was read, a seemingly distraught Marin buried his face in his hands and appeared to place something in his mouth.

His face began to turn red. Minutes later, he took a sip of a liquid from a plastic sports bottle, turned to get a tissue, experienced convulsions and collapsed.

He was pronounced dead at the hospital, said Jeff Sprong, spokesman for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, which is investigating the death.

Marin, who amassed his fortune working in finance and as a Yale-educated lawyer, set fire to his 6,600-square-foot mansion July 5, 2009, after he was unable to make a $2.3 million payment on his balloon mortgage the following month.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar162011

Husband Gives Wife Deadly Cyanide Injection, Then Drinks It Himself 

Photoobjects.net/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An angry husband stabbed his wife with a cyanide-loaded syringe as she packed up to leave him, and then drank of dose of the poison himself and dropped dead almost immediately, New York City police said.

Toxicology reports establishing the cause of death are still pending, according to a spokeswoman for the New York City Medical Examiner, but police said the deadly poison was cyanide.

Flavio Godoy, 41, is a livery driver who used to have a jewelry business and may have had access to cyanide for cleaning jewelry, police said.

The bizarre murder-suicide unfolded in the Kingsbridge Heights section of the Bronx on Sunday. Erlendly Flores, 35, was splitting up with Godoy and made the fatal decision to return to their apartment to pack up her possessions, neighbors said.

As she bent over to finish her packing, Godoy stabbed her in the arm with a poison-filled syringe, then drank a dose himself and dropped dead, according to police.

A spokesman for the New York Police Department said Flores "called (for help) before she went unconscious" and told cops that her husband had injected her. She died Tuesday at the Allen Hospital at New York Presbyterian.

Flores, who had moved into the building with her husband after a fire burned them out of their home next door, screamed out for help after she was injected, according to Richard Santiago, 57, who lives a floor below the apartment where the murder-suicide took place.

Santiago said he and another neighbor noticed a relative of Flores parked outside the building around 5 p.m. Sunday. They recognized the car from the day before, he said.

"He had come and helped her bring a bundle of bags on Saturday. She came Sunday to get more stuff, and that's when he [Godoy] assaulted her," Santiago said.

"She stuck her head out the window and said, 'Call the police!' The relative ran upstairs, and the husband was already on the floor. I guess cyanide works pretty quick."

Santiago said the couple had two children, a teenage daughter and a 10-year-old boy, but they were not in the apartment when the attack occurred.

"We're stunned, we're in shock," Santiago said. "The building is a quiet building. Everyone in the building is someone who works." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio