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Chicago lottery winner's body to be exhumed next week

January 11, 2013|By Andrew Khouri
  • This photo provided by WMAQ-TV in Chicago shows Urooj Khan, center, holding a ceremonial check in Chicago for $1 million as winner of an Illinois instant lottery game. At left, is Khan's wife, Shabana Ansari. Khan, 46, died suddenly on July 20, just days before he was to collect his winnings. Khan's death has been ruled a homicide.
This photo provided by WMAQ-TV in Chicago shows Urooj Khan, center, holding… (WMAQ-TV in Chicago )

The body of a Chicago lottery winner who authorities say died of cyanide poisoning will be exhumed, a judge ruled Friday.

Mary Paleologos, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Medical Examiner, told the Los Angeles Times that  the exhumation of Urooj Khan’s body would take place next week and an autopsy will be performed.

Khan -- who won a $1-million jackpot from the Illinois lottery last summer -- died July 20. His death was initially ruled to be natural and his body was released for burial. But after a family member raised concerns, the medical examiner ran additional tests from blood and tissue samples and in late November deemed the death a homicide.

In a court filing, Chief Medical Examiner Stephen J. Cina said a full autopsy was needed to confirm the results of cyanide poisoning, "as well as to rule out any other natural causes that might have contributed to, or caused Mr. Khan’s death."

A full autopsy was never performed because the death appeared to be natural and Khan’s body bore no signs of trauma, the medical examiner's office said.

On Thursday, Khan’s wife of 12 years, Shabana Ansari, told reporters that Chicago police asked her about the ingredients she used in making Khan’s final meal: lamb curry.

Ansari said she had nothing to do with her husband’s death and shared the curry dish with Khan, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"He was such a nice person," she said, according to the Tribune, which first reported the story. "No one would dare kill him."

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. A probate judge has mandated the lottery winnings held by a bank until a decision is made over how to distribute the money, the Chicago Tribune reported.

In the court filing, Cina said the body must be “exhumed as expeditiously as possible” because Khan was Muslim and, following religious custom, his body was not embalmed before his burial at Chicago's Rosehill Cemetery.

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