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Judge OKs Request to Exhume Lottery Winner's Body

By Geoff Ziezulewicz | January 11, 2013 11:05am | Updated on January 11, 2013 2:19pm
 Illinois Lottery winner Urooj Khan died July 20, just before he could collect his $1 million jackpot.
Illinois Lottery winner Urooj Khan died July 20, just before he could collect his $1 million jackpot.
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Illinois Lottery

CHICAGO — The body of an Illinois Lottery winner who died from cyanide poisoning in July will be examined again after a judge issued a ruling allowing the body to be exhumed during a Friday hearing.

Judge Susan Coleman approved a request to exhume the body of Urooj Khan, a 46-year-old West Rogers Park man who died July 20, just before collecting his lottery check.

After the ruling, Khan's sister, Meraj, said relatives were eager to know what happened to "the best brother in the world" who had been excited by what he could do after winning a $1 million lottery payout.

" 'I can donate more now,' " she recalling her brother saying. "'I can help out more now.' "

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office initially listed Khan's death as natural. But the medical examiner was later informed "the death may not have been due to natural causes," court documents state. In November, "analysis showed that Mr. Khan had a lethal dose of cyanide in his system at the time of his death," the documents state.

After Coleman granted the medical examiner's request to conduct a full autopsy, Mohammed Zaman, who is married to Khan's sister, Meraj Khan, said he was happy the exhumation was authorized.

"I'm glad," he said outside the courtroom Friday. "They're professionals. They know what to do."

He said that no one other than the relatives who lived in Khan's home, including Urooj Khan's wife, Shabana Ansari, and daughter, were present the night Khan ate his last meal.

"The only thing I can tell is nobody [had ] access to the house, nobody was there," he said.

He said Khan's wife is a vegetarian and did not eat the meat in the meal, reportedly lamb curry.

He said the family has "no clue" who could have poisoned Khan, but he was confident authorities would get to the bottom of what happened.

"We are not pointing fingers," he said.

Still, they want to know what happened.

"He was a lovely person," Zaman said. "Very helpful, healthy guy."

Added his wife, Meraj Khan: "It's kind of hard for me to believe now. How could they do this to him?"