Chicago police, on Jan.7, confirmed to Fox News that they had opened a homicide investigation into the death of Urooj Khan. Khan died on July 20, just weeks after winning $1 million with an Illinois Lottery scratch off ticket. The death was originally found to be from natural causes but new and more complex tests were run after a relative approached police with suspicions.
Khan elected to receive a lump sum payment that resulted in a check being issued to him for about $425,000. That check was issued the day before he died. The check was cashed in mid August.
Toxicology tests revealed that the lottery winner died from cyanide poisoning. The chemical is used in many manufacturing processes and is found after improper waster disposal, according to the Wisconsin Health Department. Cyanide can be found as a gas, a liquid or as a powder. As a gas, it was used in German concentration camps during World War II.
Cyanide is a popular device in fiction, both for committing murder and for suicide. The typical scene shows the detective leaning over the body and announcing that he "smells bitter almonds", indicative of cyanide poisoning. The Centers for Disease Control state that the smell is not always present, and that many people are unable to detect the smell.
Cyanide is very small does is used by the body to produce vitamin B12. In larger doses, it interferes with the body's ability to use oxygen and can cause a rapid death. Antidotes for cyanide poisoning may be effective if administered quickly, according to the New York Department of Health.
The Chicago police have just begun their investigation into the death of Urooj Khan. At this time they are not revealing if they have any suspects or any information about how he ingested the poison. Khan was married and had one daughter.