Lottery Winner Killed: Why Was Chicago Man Poisoned With Cyanide? [VIDEO]

By IScience Times Staff Reporter on January 7, 2013 10:27 PM EST

Why did it take so long to realize that Chicago lottery winner Urooj Khan had been poisoned?
Why did it take so long to realize that Chicago lottery winner Urooj Khan had been poisoned? (Photo: Reuters)

A Chicago lottery winner who was thrilled to finally pay off his debt and mortgage - and then amp up his dry-cleaning business with the rest of his $1 million jackpot - was killed less than a month after gushing over his winnings.

A police document that was just released to the Chicago Tribune recounts a horrific tale of a husband, wife and daughter eating dinner together and going to sleep as usual on July 20. But soon after the lottery winner, Urooj Khan, woke up screaming.

The 46-year-old lottery winner was transported to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston and declared dead. The initial report said the death was due to hardened arteries. Physicians felt sure they were correct. So they never ordered an autopsy report.

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It turns out Khan didn't die from a heart attack at all. He was poisoned with cyanide, according to a new report released by the medical examiner.

Medical Examiner Stephen J. Cina said that a week after Khan's death a relative asked his office to investigate. By early December, the medical examiner's office had conducted toxicology tests and discovered that Khan had died due to a lethal amount of cyanide in his system. 

Without any clear clues or motive, authorities barely know where to start an investigation. In an effort to learn more about what happened, police are considering exhuming the body to detect how much cyanide was actually in Khan's body.

Though it has not been confirmed that a murder was committed in order to steal Khan's winnings, most observers assume that the jackpot would have been the most likely motive.

Now the man who won the lottery with two scratch-off tickets at a 7-11 in West Rogers Park has re-opened an old debate about whether the names of lottery winners should be made public. Khan is far from the only lottery winner who has been targeted after winning a million or more. One of the most famous cases was a Florida lotto trial that got under way in November.

The prosecution described a terrifying tale, saying that in 2008 a woman named Dee Dee Moore asked lottery winner Abraham Shakespeare if she could write a book on how people were taking advantage of him after winning $17 million. Shakespeare, 42, who could only write in block letters, reportedly loaned money to many friends who never paid him back. Then Moore slowly and cunningly stole the last of Shakespeare's money, attorneys said, and then viciously murdered him. But the defense insisted the evidence was circumstantial.

"There are no eyewitnesses who can testify that Ms. Moore shot and killed Mr. Shakespeare or was present when he was shot and killed or had any part carrying out his murder," said defense attorney Byron Hileman. The defense also contended that there was no DNA evidence recovered.

The fact that the victim has the last name Shakespeare only added to the movie-like drama. The dramatic details included evidence that Moore buried Shakespeare under a concrete slab in her backyard. After he was missing for months, police found the body in January 2010 in the backyard of Moore's east Hillsborough home.

"The evidence will show you within 60 days of having been divested of everything he owns to Dee Dee Moore, all that's left of Abraham Shakespeare is his decaying body in a grave under a concrete slab behind a house that [Moore] bought on highway 60 in Plant City, Fla.," the prosecutor said.

A Polk County detective testified that Moore told investigators that Shakespeare was in Jamaica - or somewhere in the Caribbean - when Shakespeare's cousin reported him missing in the summer of 2009. Moore's ex-husband, James Moore, also testified.

"She called me one afternoon, told me she had some debris and stuff from the house that she was remodeling," James Moore, 39, said. He recounted a story of a desperate woman asking him to come and help her fill a hole in the backyard. He came to help her, pushed dirt back in the hole, he said, but didn't realize what was beneath.

With news of Khan's poisoning coming less than two months after the Florida Lotto Trial, observers are questioning once again if it's a good idea to release lottery-winner names to the public. What do you think?

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