CHICAGO (AP) — The wife of a Chicago lottery winner who was poisoned with cyanide said Tuesday she was devastated by his death and cannot believe her husband could have had enemies.
Shabana Ansari spoke to The Associated Press a day after news emerged that 46-year-old Urooj Khan's death in July was the result of cyanide poisoning and not natural causes, as authorities initially concluded. Prosecutors, Chicago police and the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office are investigating Khan's death as a homicide, but they have not given any details, announced any suspects or said whether they believed the lottery win could have presented a motive.
Ansari would not talk about the circumstances of her husband's death, saying it was too painful to recall. She said only that he fell ill shortly after they had dinner together.
She described Khan as a hard-working and generous man who would send money to orphanages in their native India.
"I was shattered. I can't believe he's no longer with me," the short, soft-spoken Ansari said tearfully, standing in one of three dry-cleaning businesses her husband started after immigrating to the U.S. from India in 1989.
Khan's death on July 20 was initially ruled a result of natural causes. But a relative's request for a deeper look resulted in the startling conclusion months later that Kahn was killed with the poison as he was about to collect $425,000 in winnings. Authorities won't identify the relative. Ansari, who said she has spoken with police detectives about the case, said she was not the one who asked for a deeper investigation and that she doesn't know who it was.
"I don't think anyone would have a bad eye for him or that he had any enemy," said Ansari, adding that she continues to work at the dry cleaner out of a desire to honor her husband and protect the businesses he built.
Khan planned to use the lottery winnings to pay off mortgages, expand his business and give a donation to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Ansari said her husband did not have a will and the money is now tied up in probate.
She said she hopes the truth of what happened to her husband will come out. She said she could not recall anyone unusual or suspicious coming into their lives after the lottery win became public.
Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told reporters Tuesday that he had never seen anything like Khan's case in his 32 years of policing in New York, New Jersey and now Chicago.
"So, I'm not going to say that I've seen everything," McCarthy said.
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