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Nation/World

January 13, 2013

Family quarrels add intrigue to lotto winner death

CHICAGO — In the week since news surfaced that a Chicago man was poisoned to death with cyanide just before he was to collect a lottery payout, surprising details about his convoluted family saga have trickled out daily.

Urooj Khan’s widow and siblings fought for months over the businessman’s estate, including the lottery check. His father-in-law owed tens of thousands of dollars in taxes. His 17-year-old daughter from a previous marriage had moved out of her stepmom’s home and into his sister’s after his death. Then his ex-wife came forward, announcing in anguish that she hadn’t seen her daughter in more than a decade and hadn’t even known she was still in the U.S.

The slowly emerging family backstory and ever-expanding cast of characters have added layers of intrigue to a baffling case in which authorities have revealed little and everyone is wondering: Who did it?

The victim’s relatives hint at family squabbles. And Khan’s wife, Shabana Ansari, has endured clutches of reporters outside the family home and business, asking even whether it was a lamb or beef curry dinner she made for Khan on the night he died.

“She’s just as curious as anyone else to get to the bottom of what caused her husband’s death,” said Al-Haroon Husain, who is representing Ansari in the case that will divide up Khan’s estate, including the $425,000 in lottery winnings.

Ansari and other relatives have denied any role in his death and expressed a desire to learn the truth.

Authorities remain tightlipped about who they may suspect. In the coming weeks, they plan to exhume the 46-year-old Indian immigrant’s body, which might allow investigators to determine exactly how he was poisoned and to gather more evidence for any possible trial.

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