Weather Updates

Condition of lottery winner’s body makes it impossible to tell how cyanide was taken



storyidforme: 44620549
tmspicid: 15808675
fileheaderid: 7112776
Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: March 15, 2013 1:44PM

The whodunit file . . .

Sneed has learned the investigation into the mysterious death of $1 million lottery winner Urooj Khan, who died of cyanide poisoning, may have taken a setback.

A mixture of money, meatballs and murder may be the recipe that killed Khan last summer — but Sneed is told the state of the lottery winner’s body makes it hard for the Cook County medical examiner’s office to determine just how he was poisoned with cyanide.

Khan’s body, exhumed and reburied recently as part of the murder probe, “was so badly decomposed it was impossible to tell whether the cyanide was ingested or inhaled,” said a top Sneed source.

Sneed exclusively reported on Jan. 10 that Khan, the victim of this deadly whodunit, was not embalmed before burial, in accordance with Muslim tradition. “That is why the body, which was buried last summer, was so decomposed,” the source added.

Sneed reported Wednesday that preliminary test results after the exhumation definitely showed that Khan died of cyanide poisoning.

“The medical examiner’s office is now waiting for a report on heavy metal or arsenic being present in the body,” a source said. “That report should be back” Thursday.

◆ The big question: How was the cyanide administered?

◆ Back story: Khan’s wife, Shabana Ansari, told the Chicago Sun-Times in January that she prepared a family dinner — which turned out to be her husband’s last meal: a traditional Indian Kofta curry. Translation: beef meatballs.

◆ Backshot: Khan’s last meal was attended by his wife, daughter from a previous marriage and father-in-law. Police sources told Sneed neither woman claimed to have eaten the meal, but stories have varied since then.

◆ Last shot: Hours after the meal, Khan reportedly awoke in a poisonous panic and died within a short period of time, according to his wife. His death was first classified due to natural causes — although blood and tissue samples were taken before Khan was buried. After a family member expressed reservations about the cause of Khan’s death, the body samples were tested and cyanide was found — leading to the body’s exhumation a few weeks ago.

Stay tuned.

The stork saga . . .

Isn’t this wild and crazy? Actor Steve Martin, 67, that wild and crazy guy, just became a dad in December. He and writer wife, Anne Stringfield, (huh) are parents and kept it quiet, I guess, according to various news reports.

Simple Simon . . .

Yipes! Veteran WBBM radio newsman John Cody, one of Sneed’s favorite newsies, made Sneed wince while reporting on Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon’s decision not to run for re-election:

◆ Quoth Cody: “She had replaced an often utilitarian wardrobe with a slightly more matching ensemble and makeup, altogether signaling she may indeed have her eye on a higher prize.”

Really, John.

A dog’s story . . .

What’s next for Banana Joe, the tiny Affenpinscher who took Best in Show on Tuesday in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show?

◆ Yummy: Joe got a steak lunch at Sardi’s in Manhattan on Wednesday.

◆ Yow: He was scheduled to appear for one night only — Wednesday— in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” on Broadway.

◆ Yo! He’ll help ring in the opening bell Thursday at the New York Stock Exchange.

Sneedlings . . .

Memo to Lincoln buffs: The taped insanity retrial of Mary Todd Lincoln, which was performed at the Murphy Auditorium last September, will be shown at 9 p.m. Friday on WTTW . . . Condolences to Maryville’s legendary Father John Smyth on the death of his beloved sister, Pat Sheehan, this week at 86 . . . Thursday’s birthdays: Florence Henderson, 79; Carl Bernstein, 69, and Michael Bloomberg, 71.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.