Chicago, Jan 9: The mortal remains of an Indian-American businessman who died here within hours of receiving a cheque for the million-dollar jackpot that he had won could be exhumed soon in order to clear the mystery over how he was poisoned.
In Jun 2012, Urooj Khan bought two Illinois lottery scratchcards from a store that he used to frequent. The 46-year-old scratched one of the cards at the 7-Eleven store itself and jumped up in joy on discovering that he had won the first prize of $1 million.
Khan had two options - collect just $600,000 immediately or receive the entire sum in installments. The owner of a dry cleaning chain in North Side here preferred the former. On Jul 19, Khan received a cheque for about $425,000, the amount he was entitled to get after taxes.
The next day, the immigrant from Hyderabad screamed suddenly in the middle of his sleep. The efforts to rush him to hospital did not succeed as he died on the way.
Since no external injuries were found on the body, the Cook County medical examiner's office ruled that the death was from natural causes. However, an anonymous call some days later prompted a relook into the case.
Toxicology tests carried out subsequently showed that Khan had died of cyanide poisoning. This led Chicago Police to launch a homicide investigation. Chief Medical Examiner Stephen J Cina has already explained to prosecutors why it is necessary to dig up Khan's grave.
"It's always good if and when the case goes to trial to have as much data as possible," Cina pointed out, adding that "based on the information we have now and the (toxicology results), we're comfortable where we are right now."
The Chicago Tribune quoted a spokesperson of the state attorney's office as saying that they will soon urge a civil court to approve the exhumation.
According to Khan's widow Shabana Ansari, he did not leave behind any will. "I don't think anyone would have a bad eye for him or that he had any enemy anyone," she said.