Cook County Medical Examiner Confirms $1 Million Lottery Winner Was Poisoned With Cyanide

The medical examiner said the autopsy confirmed Urooj Khan's poisoning.

March 1, 2013, 12:25 PM

March 1, 2013 — -- The Cook County Coroner's office in Illinois confirmed at a press conference that the lottery winner who mysteriously died in July was in fact the victim of cyanide poisoning.

Urooj Khan, 46, died on July 20 at his home in Chicago, one month after he was announced the winner of a million-dollar jackpot. Khan, who emigrated from India and owned a dry cleaning business, had opted for the $425,000 lump sum cash payment.

The medical examiner's office initially believed he had died of natural causes. It wasn't until after he was buried that his brother 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.

Khan's body was exhumed on Jan. 18 and the autopsy exam was conducted that day.

Adding intrigue to the story is a legal battle among Khan's siblings and his widow over his assets. Custody over his teenage daughter from a previous marriage was given to his sister.

Last month, his widow, Shabana Ansari, and her attorney said they have documents that indicate a portion of his dry cleaning business should go to Ansari in the event of his death, which would give her two-thirds of his estimated $2 million estate.

On Friday, Dr. Stephen Cina, the Cook County medical examiner said the autopsy did not produce any new clues, but confirmed the initial test results after Khan's brother called with his concerns, ABC's WLS in Chicago reported.

"The route of administration of cyanide cannot be confirmed in the autopsy," Cina said. "There was severe -- about 75 percent stenosis, which is blockage, of one of the major coronary arteries was detected... Since cyanide affects oxygen utilization in the tissues, it follows logically that unnatural disease process, such as coronary artery disease, that already limits blood flow to the heart muscle could render somebody particularly susceptible to this type of toxin. For this reason, coronary artery is deemed a contributory condition in this fatality. Once again, the manner of death is cyanide toxicity. Coronary artery disease is deemed a contributory condition, and the manner of death is homicide."

His family members said he was healthy. Before he died, he enjoyed a celebratory meal with family members at home.

"He was a healthy guy, you know?" his nephew Minhaj Khan told ABC News in January. "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."

"Coronary artery disease is deemed a contributory condition, and the manner of death is homicide," Cina said on Friday.

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