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Lottery winner, poisoned by cyanide, is reburied in Chicago

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 9:29 a.m. CST

(MCT) — CHICAGO — The body of a Chicago man who died of cyanide poisoning last summer after winning a million-dollar lottery prize was reburied Monday, three days after his remains were exhumed for an autopsy as part of a homicide investigation.

About half a dozen workers at Rosehill Cemetery wheeled Urooj Khan’s body on a gurney from the back of a white minivan to under a tent at his grave site. The body was then lowered into the ground while two of Khan’s relatives stood at the grave site in the bitter cold.

The proceeding took about 20 minutes.

Shortly before the reburial, one of Khan’s relatives, Mohammed Zaman, talked briefly at the cemetery about the family’s discomfort with his body being exhumed.

“The sad part is that he wasn’t resting in peace,” he said of the exhumation. “Now we have to bury him back again. For any religion, it’s hard.”

The Cook County medical examiner’s office first ruled that Khan’s death in July was from hardening of the arteries. The investigation was reopened about a week later after a relative raised concerns that Khan may have been poisoned.

Chicago police were notified in September after tests showed cyanide in Khan’s blood. By late November, more comprehensive testing showed lethal levels of the toxic chemical, leading the medical examiner’s office to rule the death a homicide.

After Khan’s body was exhumed on Friday, an autopsy was performed on Khan’s body for evidence that could aid in the homicide investigation. At the time Chief Medical Examiner Stephen J. Cina said it could take several weeks for the tests to be completed. The medical examiner’s office hopes samples taken from Khan’s organs will show whether he ingested or inhaled the cyanide.

Although a motive has not been determined, police have not ruled out that Khan was killed because of his lottery win a few weeks before his death, a law enforcement source has said. At the time of his death, he hadn’t collected his winnings—a lump-sump payment of about $425,000 after taxes.

Zaman said he hopes the autopsy sheds more light on his brother-in-law’s death.

“It’s very hard for the family,” Zaman said of the exhumation and reburial. “But it’s the only way to find out what happened to him,”

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