An Illinois lottery winner's body exhumed Friday is the focus of alleged cyanide poisoning. Urooj Khan, who won a million dollar scratch-off lotto jackpot last July, died the day after the check was issued. Initially, the medical examiner's office found his death to be from natural causes. Later, the cause of death was ruled a homicide from traces of cyanide in his system. The lottery winner's body was exhumed to rule out other contributing causes.
On Jan. 18, CNN reported that the Cook County medical examiner exhumed the lottery winner's body after a relative of Khan's obviously made a compelling case for further investigation.
Under Illinois state law, a detailed autopsy is not performed on a person under the age of 50 unless there is evidence of foul play or a formal request is placed.
"This person must have made a compelling case. This was serious enough to order a full battery of toxicology, including unusual agents such as cyanide and strychnine," said Dr. Stephen Cina to CNN.
Obviously, with suggestions that the man died from cyanide poisoning, not merely from "natural causes" as was believed; it makes perfect sense that the lottery winner's body was exhumed.
Back in July of 2012, Khan, a respected small business owner in his community, who was trying to make a better life for his family, won a million dollar scratch-off prize.
However, the day after officials issued him a check for $425,000, after taxes were taken out, the lottery winner died.
According to his wife, Khan prepared dinner that night and went to bed.
Later, he woke up screaming "in agony" and was rushed off to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Doctors thought the man died from hardening of the arteries and listed his death as "natural." And despite his age, no red flags were raised until a family member pushed for more answers.
A toxicology report was conducted and cyanide was found in his blood. Therefore, officials amended the cause of death to murder.
While the poison is found naturally in some foods, the amounts are far too small to cause a fatal reaction. Furthermore, the cooking process usually degrades the poison to harmless levels.
The lottery winner's body was exhumed Friday, but it will likely take weeks to obtain results from organ concentrations. Only then will investigators have a more complete picture of how the lotto winner died, and possibly a suspect.