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Autopsy on Poisoned Lottery Winner Yields No Answers

 A judge said the body of lottery winner Urooj Khan can be exhumed during a Friday hearing.
A judge said the body of lottery winner Urooj Khan can be exhumed during a Friday hearing.
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Illinois Lottery

NEAR WEST SIDE — Tests performed on the exhumed body of a lottery winner yielded no new information on the cyanide poisoning that killed him, the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office said Friday.

The Chicago Police Department is continuing its investigation into the death of Urooj Khan, 46, which has been ruled a homicide by the medical examiner's office.

Khan died on July 20, before he was able to cash in on the $1 million lottery jackpot he won shortly before.

Though the medical examiner's office initially ruled Khan's death was natural, the office was later informed "the death may not have been due to natural causes," according to court documents.

In November, analysis of blood taken from Khan's body after his death "showed that Mr. Khan had a lethal dose of cyanide in his system at the time of his death," the documents stated.

In January, a judge approved a request to exhume Khan's body from Rosehill Cemetery for further tests.

No additional cyanide was found during the ensuing autopsy, Chief Medical Examiner Stephen Cina said Friday.

“Cyanide has a short half-life,” Cina said, noting that the “advanced putrification” of Khan’s tissues could’ve caused any toxins to erode over time.

Despite the findings, the “lethal dose” of cyanide originally found in Khan’s blood is still enough to rule the death a homicide, Cina said.

Cina refused to speculate how the toxins entered Khan’s system, asserting he could not comment on an ongoing police investigation. He did note, however, that cyanide could be ingested, injected or inhaled.

Khan’s autopsy revealed a 75 percent blockage in one of his major coronary arteries, which could've made the lottery winner "particularly susceptible" to the cyanide, Cina said.

Still, he said, the toxins found in Khan's system would have been lethal even without a heart condition.