Son of US tourist who died in Dominican Republic says he's being forced to cremate body there: 'I want an autopsy in the US'
The son of a tourist who died on Monday in her room at a resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic has claimed that the authorities there are resisting toxicology tests and pressuring him to have his mother's body cremated or embalmed before its return to the U.S.
Leyla Cox's son Will Cox, 25, on Friday said that his mother, who died on June 10 at the Excellence resort, was on a solo trip to celebrate her 53rd birthday and was in good health.
A Dominican police report that listed the cause of her death as heart attack, according to Fox News
Will said he has been in daily contact with the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo and added that Dominican officials have stonewalled as he has tried to learn more about the circumstances of his mother’s death.
He said he did not speak directly to Dominican authorities, but rather communicated with embassy officials who were relaying information from the authorities.
“They put me against a wall,” Will said, referring to Dominican authorities. “The Dominicans said that I had to sign papers giving them permission to take her to a funeral home, and if I didn’t do that in four hours, they were going to consider her a 'Jane Doe.' They said I had to give them permission to cremate her or embalm her, or I would never get my mother back.”
"If they classified my mother as a Jane Doe, they told me I would be forfeiting the body," Will said. "I will never receive a death certificate. I will never receive my mother's remains. They did conduct an autopsy, but they will not tell me what it says."
Will says he does not know if his mother, who had trouble getting cellular or Internet service from the resort, had a drink from the minibar or elsewhere in the resort.
He said his efforts to get answers to those questions from the hotel and Dominican authorities have been futile.
The U.S. State Department on Friday issued a statement regarding Leyla's death: "We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss. We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death."
"We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance," the statement to Fox News read. "We refer you to the Dominican authorities regarding any ongoing investigation. Out of respect for family members and loved ones we cannot comment further."
According to Will, U.S. Embassy officials told them that the Dominican authorities maintain that they cannot perform a toxicological test because their machines are broken, with no intimation about when they will get fixed.
"I just feel like the Dominicans are covering their own tracks by getting rid of the evidence and evidence is my own mother. I never thought another country would do this to me," he said.
Meanwhile, Leyla's body is being kept at the Blandino Funeral Home in Santo Domingo.