Medical officials in Illinois have reclassified the natural causes death of a lottery winner who died a day after he collected the payout, leading police to investigate the death a homicide.
Here’s how the sad story unfolded: Urooj Khan, 46, won $1 million on a lottery scratcher, showing off his golden ticket in a ceremony at a Chicago 7-Eleven on June 26. A $425,000 check, Khan’s winnings after taxes, was issued July 19, WGN reported, citing an internal police department. (It was eventually cashed August 15; Lotto officials say proceeds for deceased winners go to their estate.)
On July 20, after eating dinner at home, Khan began screaming in bed, and he was rushed to the hospital where he died.
Cook County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Steve Cina said the deceased lottery winner was put through “external examination (and) basic toxicology testing,” proper protocol in such a situation.
His initial cause of death was ruled arterial sclerotic cardiovascular disease, a natural ailment that typically impacts victims of heart attacks and strokes.
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Cina said a family member told the examining doctor “they felt uncomfortable that it was being ruled a natural death and they suggested that we look into it further,” which they did in September, revealing the presence of cyanide.
A test two months later uncovered “a lethal level of cyanide,” leading to Khan’s death being classified as a murder.
“It’s pretty unusual,” Cina said of the cyanide. “I’ve had one, maybe two cases out of 4,500 autopsies I’ve done.”
Chicago police, dubbing Khan’s death an “ongoing investigation,” have yet to make an arrest.