Dominican Republic Resort Confirms Death of Another American

June 17, 2019 Updated: June 17, 2019

A Dominican Republic resort confirmed the death of an American tourist in her hotel room, the 11th American to die in the country in the past year under suspicious circumstances.

Leyla Cox, 53, traveled to the Excellence Resort in Punta Cana earlier this month to celebrate her birthday. She died on June 10.

The resort, where rooms run around $300 a night, initially said that Cox became sick and was taken to a hospital. In a new statement, the resort told CNN that Cox actually died in her hotel room.

The cause of death was listed as a heart attack. Many of the suspicious deaths have listed a heart attack as the cause of death.

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“We are deeply saddened by the recent incidents in the Dominican Republic,” the hotel’s statement said. “We understand that safety is a paramount concern for all travelers and we have always taken extensive measures to make safety a priority of all of our Excellence Punta Cana guests.”

Cox’s son highlighted her death in interviews with media outlets, claiming he was told that there wouldn’t be toxicology tests done on his mother.

“The Dominican Republic has not released an autopsy report,” William Cox told Staten Island Advance. “They will not do a toxicology report on her because they say the toxicology machines in the Dominican Republic are broken.”

Leyla Cox was aware of the suspicious deaths in the Caribbean country, her son said. Reports on the deaths began emerging after a Maryland couple was found dead in their room on May 30. After the family of a Pennsylvania woman who was found dead in her room on May 25 then came forward, other families came forward to recount how their loved ones died.

Other people, mostly younger, have shared stories of becoming violently ill while visiting the Dominican Republic.

The common theme for many of the deaths and sicknesses: drinking alcohol.

William, 25, said that he was pressured by Dominican authorities when he sought information about his mother’s death.

“They put me against a wall,” he told Fox News. “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.”

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A man is seen on a beach in the Dominican Republic in a file photo. (Erika Santelices/AFP/Getty Images)

“If they classified my mother as a Jane Doe, they told me I would be forfeiting the body. 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,” he added.

He told NBC that his mom was in good health before she went on vacation.

“She was at no risk for a heart attack and I truly believe in some way, shape or form, the Dominican Republic is responsible for my mother’s death,” he said. “If she would’ve went anywhere else in the world, she’d be alive today. ”

The millennial has started a GoFundMe to get his mother back to the United States for a funeral.

“I have been fighting every day to get her home. I need help. I need help raising money to fly my Mother Leyla Cox back home to the United States, I need help going to her place in Staten Island NY and moving her stuff, I need help for funeral/memorial cost for both NY and back home in TN, I need help fulfilling her wishes of her ashes being spread in the Florida Keys,” William Cox wrote.

“I know I am asking a lot but I am overwhelm[ed] with the weight that’s been put on my shoulders.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber