Khan seemed to be living the American dream. He had come to the U.S. from his home in Hyderabad, India, in 1989, setting up several dry-cleaning businesses and buying into some real-estate investments.
Despite having foresworn gambling after a pilgrimage to Mecca in 2010, Khan bought a ticket in June. He jumped “two feet in the air” and shouted, “I hit a million,” he recalled at a lottery ceremony later that month.
He said winning the lottery meant everything to him and that he planned to use his winnings to pay off mortgages, expand his business and donate to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
He was just days from receiving his winnings when he died before dawn on July 20.
The night before, Khan ate dinner with his wife, daughter and father-in-law in their house in Chicago’s North Side neighborhood of West Rogers Park, home to many immigrants from India and Pakistan.
Sometime that night, Khan awoke feeling ill and collapsed as he tried to get up from a chair, his wife has said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“I was shattered. I can’t believe he’s no longer with me,” a tearful Ansari, 32, told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday.
With no outward sign of trauma, authorities initially determined Khan died of natural causes. But a concerned relative — whose identity remains a mystery — came forward with suspicions and asked authorities to take a closer look.
Further toxicology tests found a lethal amount of cyanide in his blood, leading the medical examiner in November to reclassify the death a homicide. The Chicago Tribune first reported the story Monday, and reporters descended on one of the family’s dry-cleaning businesses.
The revelations followed, instilling the family tragedy with soap opera-like suspense that even attracted reporters from overseas.