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Lotto winner reburied; cyanide poisoning mystery still unsolved

January 21, 2013|By Matt Pearce
  • Lottery winner Urooj Khan, 46, of Chicago, poses with a winning lottery ticket. Khan died in July shortly before collecting $425,000 in winnings.
Lottery winner Urooj Khan, 46, of Chicago, poses with a winning lottery… (Illinois Lottery )

Urooj Khan, the Chicago lottery winner who likely died of cyanide poisoning,  has been buried for a second time, but it could be a long time before the mystery around his death is put to rest.

Khan, 46, was reburied Monday afternoon following his exhumation Friday morning. He died in July, weeks after winning $1 million in the Illinois lottery. Officials reclassified his death as a homicide after a blood sample showed cyanide.

Cook County Chief Medical Examiner Stephen J. Cina's office conducted an autopsy on Khan on Friday to take hair, fingernail and organ samples from his remains. The findings of that examination are expected to take a few weeks and should confirm whether Khan was poisoned.

Khan's brother-in-law, Mohammed Zaman, was present at the reburial in Rosehill Cemetery on the Far North Side, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"The sad part is that he wasn't resting in peace," Zaman told the Tribune. "[He was] in God's hands. We pick him up one more time. Now we have to bury him back again. For any religion, it's hard for anybody."

Khan, a Muslim, had reportedly sworn off gambling, but bought a ticket earlier this summer and won the prize, which he expected to spread between charity donations and his dry-cleaning business.

On the night of his death, he went home and shared dinner with his family, and was reportedly heard screaming before he was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead.

His death was initially believed to be caused by heart disease. But an unidentified family member asked Cina to take a closer look into Khan's death. The ensuing examinations revealed the poisoning.

Since Khan's death, his widow, Shabana Ansari, and his brother, ImTiaz Khan, have been battling each other in court over his winnings, with ImTiaz Khan saying that he was worried that Khan's child from another marriage would not see a fair portion of the winnings, a lump-sum payout that totaled $425,000 after taxes.

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matt.pearce@latimes.com

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