Police are now investigating the sudden death, by cyanide poisoning, of Urooj Khan, 46, a Rogers Park (on Chicago’s north side) dry cleaner and owner of five condominiums, who succumbed one day after receiving just short of $425,000 on a $1 million-winning instant lottery ticket. At the time of his death only a basic screening for opiates, cocaine, and carbon monoxide was conducted; more complete autopsies for men over 45 are seldom performed unless the death is considered suspicious. Based on the initial screening, death was attributed to narrowing and hardening of coronary arteries.
Several days after the screening, Cook County Chief Medical Examiner Stephen J. Cina said his office had a call from a Khan family member; Mr. Khan’s family consists of his wife, Shabana Ansari, 32, and their daughter Jasmeen. The caller was suspicious that Urooj Khan’s death was not a natural one. Further testing by the medical examiner revealed a lethal dose of cyanide. “For now, the death certificate says cyanide toxicity and the manner of death says homicide,” Cina said.
Deborah Blum, an expert on poisons, explains that cyanide can be inhaled, swallowed, or injected. It has a strong and bitter taste, and a person swallowing it would be aware he had swallowed something bad. A lethal dose of the substance, used in factories for steel fabrication, will cause a death by suffocating convulsing – a violent death – within five minutes.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Mr. Khan ate dinner with his family on the night he died. He went to bed, and awoke screaming. He was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Urooj Khan spent $60 for the lottery scratch-off ticket at a Rogers Park 7-Eleven store where he was known to store clerk Ashur Oshana. Oshana mentioned to reporters from the Associated Press that Khan, on returning from a Muslim pilgrimage, had told him that he was done with gambling. But on this occasion, the dry cleaner/entrepreneur found himself unable to resist, and scratched off the ticket, which turned out to be a million dollar winner. “Right away he grabbed my hand,” Oshana said. “He kissed my hand and kissed my head and gave me $100! He was really happy.”
Jimmy Goreel, who owns the 7-Eleven convenience store, had previously sold Khan a $5,000 winning ticket. “He was so generous! He reached for a hundred dollars, and he threw it on the counter for me…He was a family man who worked hard for his family,” Goreel said. “I just can’t see it happening. If that’s true, it’s sad.”
The actual amount of Khan’s win, his having chosen a lump sum, after taxes was $424,449.60. He planned to give part of his prize to St. Jude Children’s Research hospital, and invest much of the money in his dry cleaning business.
Results of the ongoing investigation for homicide should be forthcoming.Powered by Sidelines