Entries in Urooj Khan (2)


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


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

ABC News Radio