Brother asked for review of lottery winner's mysterious death



Chicago: The brother of an Indian-origin businessman, who died of cyanide poisoning here days after he won a million dollar lottery, says that he pressed authorities to review the initial finding that his sibling died of natural causes.

46-year old Urooj Khan, who owned a dry cleaning business here, died mysteriously in July last year, just weeks after winning a lottery 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 buried him without an autopsy.

When Urooj's brother Imtiaz Khan claimed the body in July last year at the morgue, he had pleaded with an employee there to take another look at his brother's death, the Chicago Tribune reported.

"I said, 'No, my brother cannot die like this. He was so healthy. I have suspicions about this. It cannot be natural. Please go and look into more details about it," Khan said.

Urooj's death seemed far too coincidental to accept, especially because his USD 1 million lottery win weeks earlier had created some tension within his family, Khan was quoted as saying in the report.

Acting on Khan's plea, authorities ordered a review at Urooj's death. By early December, toxicology tests showed that Urooj had died of a lethal amount of cyanide, leading the medical examiner's office to term the death a homicide and prompting fresh investigations.

Khan said, and the medical examiner's office confirmed, that he never specifically mentioned fears of poisoning, but his concerns led the medical examiner to reopen the case, the Tribune report said.

"Every time I'd go to work I would just keep talking about my brother and keep thinking about him as if he's standing in front of me," said Khan, who works at a suburban post office. "He was such an enjoyable person. He can't go like this. ... It's my love for my brother that made me keep saying he didn't die of natural causes."

Urooj, who had moved to US from his home in Hyderabad in 1989, died without a will, opening the door for a court battle. The businessman's widow and siblings have been fighting for months over his estate, including the lottery check.

Urooj's widow, Shabana Ansari, and other relatives have denied any role in his death.

PTI