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Illinois

Lottery winner’s body exhumed

Police say he was poisoned in July

  • Workers at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, place the body of Urooj Khan into a hearse after it was exhumed for an autopsy to help solve the mystery surrounding his death. Khan, 46, who was poisoned with cyanide after winning the lottery, died in July as he was about to collect $425,000 in winnings. His death was initially ruled a result of natural causes, but a relative pressed for a deeper look and his death was reclassified as a homicide.  (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

    Workers at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, place the body of Urooj Khan into a hearse after it was exhumed for an autopsy to help solve the mystery surrounding his death. Khan, 46, who was poisoned with cyanide after winning the lottery, died in July as he was about to collect $425,000 in winnings. His death was initially ruled a result of natural causes, but a relative pressed for a deeper look and his death was reclassified as a homicide. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • A backhoe is seen at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, as workers begin the process of exhuming the body of Urooj Khan who was poisoned with cyanide after winning the lottery. Khan died in July as he was about to collect $425,000 in lottery winnings. His death was initially ruled a result of natural causes, but a relative pressed for a deeper look and his death was reclassified as a homicide.  (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

    A backhoe is seen at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, as workers begin the process of exhuming the body of Urooj Khan who was poisoned with cyanide after winning the lottery. Khan died in July as he was about to collect $425,000 in lottery winnings. His death was initially ruled a result of natural causes, but a relative pressed for a deeper look and his death was reclassified as a homicide. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Workers at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, begin the process of exhuming the body of Urooj Khan who was poisoned with cyanide after winning the lottery. Khan died in July as he was about to collect $425,000 in lottery winnings. His death was initially ruled a result of natural causes, but a relative pressed for a deeper look and his death was reclassified as a homicide.  (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

    Workers at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, begin the process of exhuming the body of Urooj Khan who was poisoned with cyanide after winning the lottery. Khan died in July as he was about to collect $425,000 in lottery winnings. His death was initially ruled a result of natural causes, but a relative pressed for a deeper look and his death was reclassified as a homicide. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Workers at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, place the body of Urooj Khan into a hearse after it was exhumed for an autopsy to help solve the mystery surrounding his death. Khan, 46, who was poisoned with cyanide after winning the lottery, died in July as he was about to collect $425,000 in winnings. His death was initially ruled a result of natural causes, but a relative pressed for a deeper look and his death was reclassified as a homicide.  (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
  • A backhoe is seen at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, as workers begin the process of exhuming the body of Urooj Khan who was poisoned with cyanide after winning the lottery. Khan died in July as he was about to collect $425,000 in lottery winnings. His death was initially ruled a result of natural causes, but a relative pressed for a deeper look and his death was reclassified as a homicide.  (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
  • Workers at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, begin the process of exhuming the body of Urooj Khan who was poisoned with cyanide after winning the lottery. Khan died in July as he was about to collect $425,000 in lottery winnings. His death was initially ruled a result of natural causes, but a relative pressed for a deeper look and his death was reclassified as a homicide.  (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

The body of a Chicago man who was poisoned with cyanide after winning the lottery was exhumed yesterday for an autopsy that authorities hope will help solve the mystery surrounding his death.

A black hearse escorted by four police cars carried away the body of Urooj Khan from a cemetery on the city’s North Side around 9 a.m., and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office was expected to perform the autopsy immediately, spokeswoman Mary Paleologos said.

She said examiners will take blood, tissue, bone, hair and nail samples. They’ll also examine the lungs, liver, spleen and contents of the stomach and intestines. Paleologos said tests on Khan’s organs also may determine whether the poison was swallowed, inhaled or injected.

The autopsy was expected to be finished by yesterday afternoon, though it will take two to three weeks to get test results, she said.

Khan, 46, died in July as he was about to collect $425,000 in lottery winnings. His death initially was ruled a result of natural causes. But a relative asked for further tests that revealed in November that he had been poisoned.

Khan’s wife, Shabana Ansari, and other relatives have denied any role in his death and expressed a desire to learn the truth.

Authorities remain tightlipped about whom they may suspect.

At dawn yesterday, a backhoe at Rosehill Cemetery began scooping up dark clumps of ground hardened by the cold weather. Two men then finished the work with shovels, and a Muslim cleric said prayers beside Khan’s grave. His body was placed in a white bag and loaded into a hearse.

One of Khan’s brothers was present, along with officials from the medical examiner’s office and Chicago police detectives.

The police kept about half a dozen TV news crews at a distance, beyond the cemetery’s fence, and two news helicopters circled overhead.

Khan had come to the United States from his home in Hyderabad, India, in 1989, setting up several dry-cleaning businesses and buying into some real-estate investments.

Despite having foresworn gambling after making the haj pilgrimage to Mecca in 2010, Khan bought a lottery ticket in June. He jumped “two feet in the air” and shouted, “I hit a million,” he recalled at a lottery ceremony later that month.

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