January 8, 2013

Jackpot winner's death now a cyanide homicide

New tests show the man who won $1 million did not die naturally, but was he killed for his money?

Jason Keyser / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Urooj Khan, 46, of Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood, poses with a winning lottery ticket in this undated photo. The Cook County medical examiner said Monday that Khan was fatally poisoned with cyanide July 20, 2012, a day after he collected nearly $425,000 in lottery winnings.

Illinois Lottery / AP

"It has a really strong, bitter taste, so you would know you had swallowed something bad if you had swallowed cyanide," Blum said. "But if you had a high enough dose it wouldn't matter, because ... a good lethal does will take you out in less than five minutes."

It takes only a small amount of fine cyanide powder to be deadly, she said, as it disrupts the ability of cells to transport oxygen around the body, causing a convulsive, violent death.

"It essentially kills you in this explosion of cell death," she said. "You feel like you're suffocating."

After the initial cause of death was released, a relative of Khan's asked authorities to look into the case further, Cina said. He would not identify the relative. The full results came back in November.

"She (the morgue worker) then reopened the case and did more expansive toxicology, including all the major drugs of use, all the common prescription drugs and also included I believe strychnine and cyanide in there just in case something came up," Cina said. "And in fact cyanide came up in this case."

Chicago Police Department spokeswoman Melissa Stratton confirmed the department was now investigating the death, and said detectives are working closely with the Medical Examiner's Office.

Investigators will likely exhume the body, Cina said.

Oshana said he was shocked to hear that someone might have killed Khan.

"I'm very sorry for him," Oshana said.

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