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Lottery poisoning case plays like soap opera

| Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, 9:40 p.m.

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 had not seen her daughter in more than a decade and hadn't even known she was still in the United States.

The slowly emerging family backstory and 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 Khan's estate, including the $425,000 in lottery winnings.

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

Authorities remain tightlipped about whom they may suspect.

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