World News

Saturday 26 July 2014

Tests on murdered lottery winner

Published 19/01/2013|01:35

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Workers at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago place the body of Urooj Khan into a hearse after it was exhumed (AP/M Spencer Green)

Experts have examined the body of a Chicago businessman who was poisoned with cyanide after winning a lottery in the hope that it will help solve the mystery surrounding his death.

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The body of Urooj Khan was exhumed from a cemetery yesterday and placed inside a hearse, which was escorted by four police cars to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

Pathologists collected samples of hair, nails and most major body organs, as well as contents of the stomach, medical examiner Stephen Cina said.

Tests might determine whether Mr Khan swallowed, inhaled or was injected with the poison, Mr Cina said.

Indian-born Mr Khan, 46, died in July as he was about to collect 425,000 dollars (£279,000) in lottery winnings.

His death was initially ruled a result of natural causes. But a relative whose identity remains a mystery asked for further tests that revealed in November that he had been poisoned.

Mr Khan was given a religious burial and his body was not embalmed. The body was wrapped in a shroud and placed inside a wooden box with a Styrofoam lid that was itself inside a concrete vault. Mr Cina said the body had not come into contact with soil from the grave.

"The body was in a state of advanced decomposition, but we were able to identify the major organs and take samples of each of these for toxicological analysis," he said.

Given the length of time Mr Khan's body was in the ground, Mr Cina said it was not certain investigators would be able to determine exactly how he ingested the poison. "I can't really predict how the results are going to turn out. Cyanide over the post-mortem period actually can essentially evaporate and leave the tissues. So it is possible that cyanide that was in the tissues is no longer in the tissues after several months," he told a news conference.

But he said that after the examination, which lasted about two hours, he remained convinced Mr Khan was murdered. "We've already determined it was a homicide," he said. "I didn't see anything that changed that."

Press Association

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