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Cyanide poisoning killed lottery winner, officials say

This undated phoprovided by Illinois Lottery shows Urooj Khan 46 Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood posing with winning lottery ticket.

This undated photo provided by the Illinois Lottery shows Urooj Khan, 46, of Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood, posing with a winning lottery ticket. The Cook County medical examiner said Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, that Khan was fatally poisoned with cyanide July 20, 2012, a day after he collected nearly $425,000 in lottery winnings. (AP Photo/Illinois Lottery)

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Updated: February 9, 2013 6:14AM



Last June, Urooj Khan literally jumped for joy as he stood in a Far North Side 7-Eleven, having just learned he held a $1 million-winning instant lottery ticket.

Less than a month later, Khan, 46, died at his West Rogers Park home — of apparent hardening of the arteries. But now, Khan’s death has been reclassified as a homicide, and investigators say he died from cyanide poisoning.

Investigators are moving toward exhuming Khan’s body for further tests, Cook County Chief Medical Examiner Stephen J. Cina said Monday.

“That seems to be the way things are heading,” Cina said. “Depending on the condition of the body, we may be able to document the extent of any pre-existing conditions and do additional toxicological testing on other specimens.”

Khan, who told the Illinois Lottery that he planned to invest some of his winnings in his dry-cleaning business, was pronounced dead at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston July 20. At the time, the medical examiner’s office did an external exam but no autopsy.

“At the time, there was no suspicion of foul play based on the history provided,” Cina said.

But a few days after that exam, Cina said his office got a call from one of Khan’s family members.

The caller said, “There may be more to it than a natural death, and they asked us to look into it further,” Cina said, refusing to provide more details.

Further testing revealed a lethal dose of cyanide, Cina said.

“For now, the death certificate says cyanide toxicity and the manner of death says homicide,” Cina said.

Khan’s family, which includes a wife and daughter, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Contributing: Michael Lansu



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