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Entries in Exhumed (5)

Friday
Jan182013

Poisoned Chicago Lottery Winner's Body Exhumed

Ann Cutting/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- The body of Urooj Khan, a lottery winner who was was poisoned with cyanide, was exhumed Friday from the Rose Hill Cemetery in Chicago at 8 a.m. ET.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office is trying to find more details about his death, such as whether the poison was inhaled, swallowed, or injected.

Khan, 46, was an immigrant from India who owned dry-cleaning businesses in Chicago.  He was announced the winner of a million-dollar lottery jackpot in June and chose to take the lump sum payout amounting to $425,000 after taxes.

When he died on July 20 in Chicago, the medical examiner's office believed he had died of natural causes.  It wasn't until after he was buried that a family member 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.

The medical examiner expects to finish the autopsy on Friday and will host a press conference at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Khan's family said they were suspicious after he died.

"He was a healthy guy, you know?" his nephew, Minhaj, told ABC News last week.  "He worked so hard.  He was always going about his business and, the thing is: After he won the lottery and the next day later he passes away -- it's awkward.  It raises some eyebrows."

Khan reportedly did not have a will.  With the investigation moving forward, his family is waging a legal fight against his widow, Shabana Ansari, 32, over more than $1 million, including his lottery winnings, as well as his business and real estate holdings.

Khan's brother filed a petition last week to a judge asking Citibank to release information about Khan's assets to "ultimately ensure" that [Khan's] minor daughter from a prior marriage "receives her proper share."

Ansari may have tried to cash the jackpot check after Khan's death, according to court documents, which also showed Khan's family is questioning if the couple was ever even legally married.

Ansari, Khan's second wife, who still works at the couple's dry cleaning business, has insisted they were married legally.

She has told reporters the night before her husband died, she cooked a traditional Indian meal for him and their family, including Khan's daughter and Ansari's father.  Not feeling well, Khan retired early, Ansari told the Chicago Sun-Times, falling asleep in a chair, waking up in agony, then collapsing in the middle of the night.  She said she called 911.

"It has been an incredibly hard time," she told ABC News last week.  "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."

"I am cooperating with the investigation," Ansari told ABC News.  "I want the truth to come out."

Ansari has not been named a suspect, but her attorney, Steven Kozicki, said investigators did question her for more than four hours last year.

"Absolutely, positively, you know, she had nothing to do with her husband's death," Kozicki said.

Despite the legal battle over the estate, Minhaj said the family "can't really point fingers or we can't really speculate until a further investigation is done."

"When they are exhuming his body, I really hope the truth does come out, and our family finds some peace and we get to the bottom of this," he said.  "Because everybody has to go one day, but the way that he died was not the way to go."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jan122013

Poisoned Lottery Winner’s Family Knew Something Wasn't Right, Nephew Says

Hemera/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Urooj Khan had just brought home his $425,000 lottery check when he unexpectedly died the following day. Now, certain members of Khan's family are speaking publicly about the mystery -- and his nephew told ABC News they knew something was not right.

"He was a healthy guy, you know?" said the nephew, Minhaj Khan said. "He worked so hard. He was always going about his business and, the thing is: After he won the lottery and the next day later he passes away -- it's awkward. It raises some eyebrows."

The medical examiner initially ruled Urooj Khan, 46, an immigrant from India who owned dry-cleaning businesses in Chicago, died July 20, 2012, of natural causes. But after a family member demanded more tests, authorities in November found a lethal amount of cyanide in his blood, turning the case into a homicide investigation.

"When we found out there was cyanide in his blood after the extensive toxicology reports, we had to believe that ... somebody had to kill him," Minhaj Khan said. "It had to happen, because where can you get cyanide?"

Authorities could be one step closer to learning what happened to Urooj Khan. A judge Friday approved an order to exhume his body at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago as early as Thursday to perform further tests.

Moments after the court hearing, Urooj Khan's sister, Meraj Khan, remembered her brother as the kind of person who would've shared his jackpot with anyone. Speaking at the Cook County Courthouse, she hoped the exhumation would help the investigation.

"It's very hard because I wanted my brother to rest in peace, but then we have to have justice served," she said, according to ABC News station WLS in Chicago. "So if that's what it takes for him to bring justice and peace, then that's what needs to be done."

Khan reportedly did not have a will. With the investigation moving forward, his family is waging a legal fight against his widow, Shabana Ansari, 32, over more than $1 million, including Urooj Khan's lottery winnings, as well as his business and real estate holdings.

Khan's brother filed a petition Wednesday to a judge asking Citibank to release information about Khan's assets to "ultimately ensure" that [Khan's] minor daughter from a prior marriage "receives her proper share."

Ansari may have tried to cash the jackpot check after Khan's death, according to court documents, which also showed Urooj Khan's family is questioning if the couple was ever even legally married.

Ansari, Urooj Khan's second wife, who still works at the couple's dry cleaning business, has insisted they were married legally.

She has told reporters the night before her husband died, she cooked a traditional Indian meal for him and their family, including Khan's daughter and Ansari's father. Not feeling well, Khan retired early, Ansari told the Chicago Sun-Times, falling asleep in a chair, waking up in agony, then collapsing in the middle of the night. She said she called 911.

"It has been an incredibly hard time," she told ABC News earlier this week. "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.

"I am cooperating with the investigation," Ansari told ABC News. "I want the truth to come out."

Ansari has not been named a suspect, but her attorney, Steven Kozicki, said investigators did question her for more than four hours.

"Absolutely, positively, you know, she had nothing to do with her husband's death," Kozicki said.

Despite the legal battle over the estate, Minhaj Khan said the family "can't really point fingers or we can't really speculate until a further investigation is done."

"When they are exhuming his body, I really hope the truth does come out, and our family finds some peace and we get to the bottom of this," he said. "Because everybody has to go one day, but the way that he died was not the way to go."

Urooj Khan won $1 million in a scratch-off Illinois Lottery game in June, though he elected to take the lump sum payout amounting to $425,000 after taxes. He 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.

Minhaj Khan remembered his uncle as that sort of giving person.

"He had a successful business, he was a great father, he was a great uncle to us and we knew him since the late '80s, since he came here [to the United States]," he said. "We lived with him. My kids used to play with him too, you know? I have two little girls. He was a really big family man and everybody loved him.

"He was the life of the party," he said, "always joking around, always joking with us and the family."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan112013

Poisoned Lottery Winner's Exhumation Approved

Hemera/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- A judge has approved the exhumation of the Chicago lottery winner who died of cyanide poisoning.

Judge Susan Coleman of the Probate Division of the Cook County Circuit Court in Illinois Friday approved the county medical examiner's request to exhume the body of Urooj Khan at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.

Khan, 46, died July 20, 2012, from what was initially believed to be natural causes. But a family member whose identity has yet to be revealed asked the medical examiner's office to re-examine the cause of death, which was subsequently determined to be cyanide poisoning.

The office did so by retesting fluid samples that had been taken from Khan's body, including tests for cyanide and strychnine.

In explaining the request for exhumation, Chief Medical Examiner Stephen Cina has said, "If or when this goes to court, it would be nice to have all the data possible."

The Chicago businessman had won a $1 million lottery jackpot -- before taxes -- the month before he died.

In the latest legal twist, Khan's brother filed a petition Wednesday to a judge asking Citibank to release information about Khan's assets to "ultimately ensure" that [Khan's] minor daughter "receives her proper share." Khan reportedly did not have a will.

He left behind a widow, Shabana Ansari, 32, and a teenage daughter from his first marriage. Ansari and Khan reportedly married 12 years ago in India.

Authorities questioned Ansari in November and searched the home she shared with Khan. She and her attorney, Al Haroon Husain, say she had nothing to do with his death.

"It's sad that I lost my husband," she told ABC News. "I love him and I miss him. That's all I can say."

The siblings of the poisoned lottery winner have pursued legal action to protect their niece's share of her late father's estate. They also questioned whether he and Ansari were legally married, but Ansari's attorney said she has a marriage certificate from India that is valid in the United States.

ImTiaz Khan, 56, Khan's brother, and Meraj Khan, 37, their sister, had won a court order to freeze the lottery winnings after Ansari cashed the check.

Husain said Ansari cashed the lottery check after it was mailed to the home, which she did not request.

The lottery check, about $425,000 in cash, was issued July 19 by the Illinois Comptroller's Office, then mailed, according to Brad Hahn, spokesman for the Comptroller's Office. Hahn said it was cashed Aug. 15, nearly a month after Khan's death, but he did not know who cashed it.

The judge later approved Ansari's competing claim as an administrator of the estate.

"I don't care what they talk [sic]," Ansari told ABC News of what her in-laws are saying.

Ansari said she was married to Khan but declined to comment to ABC News about cashing the check after his death.

Meraj Khan filed in September to become the legal guardian of her niece. After the judge asked the 17-year old daughter with whom she wished to live, she chose her aunt and has been there since November, Husain said.

Neither sibling has petitioned to obtain a share of the dead man's estate, which is estimated to be $1.2 million in lottery winnings, real estate, Khan's laundry business and automobiles.

Neither the attorney for ImTiaz Khan nor the two siblings has responded to requests for comment.

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

Tuesday
Dec182012

"In Cold Blood" Killers Exhumed, Investigators Hope to Solve 53-Year-Old Cold Case

Comstock/Thinkstock(LANSING, Kan.) -- The bodies of the killers who were the basis of Truman Capote's true-crime book In Cold Blood were exhumed Tuesday in Kansas, as authorities hope to crack a 53-year-old cold case using DNA.

After committing the In Cold Blood murders of Herbert Clutter, his wife and two children on Nov. 15, 1959, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock hit the road, hiding out from law enforcement in Mexico and Florida, among other places, according to Capote's book and law enforcement accounts. They were ultimately captured in Las Vegas.

But it just so happens that Smith and Hickock were near Osprey, Fla., on Dec. 19, 1959, when the Walker family was murdered in their home.

The men were briefly investigated in 1960, but were ruled out as suspects after passing lie detector tests. Hickock and Smith were hanged on April 14, 1965 and buried at the Mount Muncie cemetery in Lansing, Kan.

Detective Kim McGath, who has been assigned to the Walker case for the past four years, said she decided to start from the beginning last year in investigating the case, and through her research developed a hunch that Smith and Hickock could be responsible.

"Some things started jumping out at me," she told ABC News.

By the time they reached Florida, the men were spotted throughout the state looking for odd jobs to make a quick buck, often at mechanics' shops and gas stations, according to Capote's book.

It's possible the young family, who had been in the market to purchase a Chevrolet Bel Air, may have crossed paths with Smith and Hickock, who were driving a 1956 model and likely needed money, McGath said.

They were spotted several times in the Sarasota area the day of the murders, and after the Walker family was killed, one of the men was seen with a "scratched-up face," McGath said.

Physical evidence, long before the emergence of DNA testing, was also left behind, McGath said.

Christine Walker had been raped and semen was found in her underwear, she said, and there was a bloody cowboy hat found at the scene.

And two suspicious hairs, which were inconsistent with the Walker family, were found in the home.

"There was a dark hair found in the bathroom, where baby Debbie was found in the bathtub, and a long blond hair inside the dress of Christine Walker," McGath said.

According to Capote's book, Smith recalled reading about the murders in the Miami Herald.

"Know what I wouldn't be surprised? If this wasn't done by a lunatic. Some nut that read about what happened out in Kansas," Smith told Hickock while the two were on the beach in Acapulco, in an exchange Capote recounted in his book. The men never confessed to the murders.

Mitochondrial DNA may prove otherwise if it can be extracted from the bones of the men.

"It's absolutely possible," McGath said. "It depends on all kind of circumstances. The soil conditions, the weather, what type of casket it is in. We will have no idea until we get out there."

Fifty-three years after the murders, closure remains just as important to residents of the Osprey.

"People really changed the way they lived. They locked everything, were afraid of their neighbors," she said. "There has just been such a great desire for this to be solved because it really affected so many people. It really is a lot more far reaching than a lot of people realize."

 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio