Dead Indian-American lottery winner's wife demands justice

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 09, 2013 10:04 hrs

Chicago: The distraught wife of a USD 1 million lottery winner, who died of cyanide poisoning, has demanded that the truth behind her husband's mysterious death should be brought out soon, as the authorities here prepared to exhume the body of the Indian-American businessman.

"I want the truth to come out in the investigation, the sooner the better," said Shabana Ansari, the wife of 46-year-old Urooj Khan.

"Who could be that person who hurt him? It has been incredibly hard time," she said.

"We went from being the happiest the day we got the cheque. It was the best sleep I've had. And then the next day, everything was gone."

32-year-old Shabana, Khan's second wife, told the Chicago Sun-Times that she prepared what would be her husband's last meal the night before Khan died unexpectedly on July 20.

It was a traditional dinner attended by the couple and their family, including Khan's 17-year-old daughter from a prior marriage, Jasmeen, and Shabana's father.

Not feeling well, Khan retired early, Shabana told the paper, falling asleep in a chair, waking up in agony, then collapsing in the middle of the night. She called 911.

Khan, who owned a dry cleaning business on the city's North Side, died unexpectedly in July, just weeks after winning a million-dollar lottery prize at a 7-Eleven store near his home.

Finding no trauma to his body and no unusual substances in his blood, the medical examiner's office declared his death to be from natural causes and he was buried without an autopsy.

About a week later, a relative told authorities to take a closer look at Khan's death. By early December, comprehensive toxicology tests showed that Khan had died of a lethal amount of cyanide, leading the medical examiner's office to reclassify the death a homicide and prompting police and prosecutors to investigate.

"Him winning the lottery was just his luck," Shabana told ABC News. "He had already worked hard to be a millionaire before it."

"I am cooperating with the investigation," Shabana said. "I want the truth to come out."

"This is been a shock for me," she said. "This has been an utter shock for me, and my husband was such a goodhearted person who would do anything for anyone. Who would do something like this to him?

"We were married 12 years (and) he treated me like a princess," she said. "He showered his love on me and now it's gone."

Meanwhile, the Cook County Medical Examiner Stephen Cina said Khan's body will be exhumed within the next two weeks.

The exhumation is needed to complete the investigation into Khan's death. "I feel that a complete autopsy is needed for the sake of clarity and thoroughness," Cina said.

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