Poisoned lottery winner’s ex-wife hasn’t seen daughter in 13 years
BY STEFANO ESPOSITO Staff Reporteremail@example.com January 10, 2013 6:30PM
Updated: February 12, 2013 2:45PM
When Maria Jones saw an image on her TV earlier this week of a smiling Urooj Khan holding a winning lottery ticket, his was a face she hadn’t seen in almost 13 years.
Jones, who now lives in South Bend, Ind., was once married to Khan, the man whose death by cyanide poisoning has made international headlines.
“I was shocked,” said Jones, who was divorced from Khan in the late 1990s.
But the story gets more complicated — and tragic. The couple had a daughter together — Jasmeen Khan, the teenager who was at her West Rogers Park home the night her father died last July.
Jones’ shock and — as well as tremendous relief — stems from the fact that she last saw her daughter 13 years ago, when, she says, her husband forcibly took their young child to India.
“I don’t know if she knows I’m still alive,” a sobbing Jones said in a telephone interview.
Jones, 43, said she met Khan in Chicago. They were co-workers. They got married in 1991 and divorced a few years later. Jones said she was young and too poor to afford an attorney in the divorce, so ended up losing primary custody of Jasmeen to Khan. But at some point after the divorce, Jones went to visit Jasmeen and said she was told by Khan’s relatives that he had left America for India — with Jasmeen — and wasn’t coming back.
“I thought she was in India all these years,” Jones said.
Her current husband, Bill Jones, who was engaged in Chicago to the former Mrs. Khan at the time, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the couple reached out to police and a lawyer but had no luck in getting Jasmeen back.
Khan’s sister and her husband, Jasmeen’s current guardians, couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday evening. Jones is mentioned as the biological mother — but under her maiden name — in Cook County court documents in the dispute over Urooj Khan’s estate.
Maria Jones was reluctant to talk about her relationship with Khan, saying it’s “a really, really long story,” but she said she has no idea why someone might want to poison her ex-husband.
Now, Jones hopes she can reconnect with the daughter she hasn’t seen in so many years.
And so does Armando Jones, Maria Jones’ son from a third relationship.
“All I want is to see my sister,” said Armando Jones, who lives in California.
“I don’t know what she knows,” Maria Jones said. “She was so little. I don’t want to hurt her.”
The family left an especially poignant message on its telephone answering machine:
“If this is Jasmeen, please leave your number and I will call you. I’ve been waiting to hear from you. I love you.”
Contributing: Jon Seidel