Chicago lottery winner's body may be exhumed in homicide probe

January 10, 2013|By Andrew Khouri

Cook County prosecutors will to seek to exhume the body of a 46-year-old Chicago lottery winner who authorities say died from cyanide poisoning, the medical examiner’s office says.

Mary Paleologos, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner, told the Los Angeles Times that a judge must approve the removal of Urooj Khan’s remains. Then authorities must coordinate with the cemetery, she said, so the exhumation will probably not occur for several weeks.

Paleologos said the motion would be filed in court Friday, but a spokesman for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office would not confirm that.

Khan died July 20, weeks after winning a $1-million jackpot from the Illinois Lottery.

His death was originally ruled to stem from heart disease. But a family member raised concerns and asked the medical examiner to take a second look, Stephen J. Cina, Cook County chief medical examiner, told the Los Angeles Times this week. Cina declined to identify the family member.

After additional tests on blood and tissue samples, Khan's death was ruled a homicide in November. The medical examiner's office says it needs his body to complete its investigation.

Chicago police questioned Khan’s wife, Shabana Ansari, 32, for more than four hours last month, her attorney said. She answered all questions, attorney Steven Kozicki told the Chicago Tribune. "She's got nothing to hide."

Court records show that Khan’s brother and Ansari have fought in probate court over the lottery money. His brother worried that Khan's daughter from a previous marriage would not see "her fair share," according to documents obtained by the Tribune.

Ansari loved her husband, Kozicki said, and had no financial interest in his death.

With his winnings, Khan had planned to pay off his mortgage and other debts and to invest in his dry-cleaning business. He also planned a donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Khan chose a lump sum rather than a lengthy payout, so he was to collect about $425,000 after taxes. He died before receiving the money, which went into his estate.


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