Leyla Cox, 53, of Staten Island is said to have died of a heart attack

By Robyn Merrett
June 15, 2019 01:16 AM

A son is desperate for answers after his mother mysteriously died while on vacation in the Dominican Republic.

Leyla Cox of Staten Island had traveled to the popular tourist destination on Wednesday, June 5 for her birthday and never returned, SILive.com reported.

Her son William Cox said he last spoke to his mother on June 2, just a few days before she set off.

“I called her on a Sunday and wished her a happy birthday,” William told SILive.com. “I told her I love her.”

The trip was Leyla’s second time visiting the island and as she prepared for her solo adventure, William said he and his family warned her not to go.

“My family wanted her to not go on this vacation,” William explained to SILive.com. “I truly believe if my mother was not in the Dominican Republic, she would have been alive right now.”

“With everything going on in the news right now, we think she’s a casualty of what’s been happening,” he said.

Leyla was found dead at 53 in her hotel room and according to William, the U.S. Embassy officials explained her death had been ruled as a heart attack, SILive.com reported.

“I am overwhelmed and confused and in shock,” William told the outlet. “Her birthday was on June 9 and she passed away on June 10.”

Leyla Cox
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Leyla was supposed to return home on June 12.

Following her death, an autopsy was performed and William was told no toxicology report could be ordered because her autopsy showed “no red flags,” Williams told SILive.com and CBS New York.

He explained he was also told the toxicology machine was broken, CBS New York reported.

At this time, William just wants one thing — to give his mother a proper funeral.

He is currently waiting for Leyla, who worked in the radiology department at Richmond University Medical Center in West Brighton, to be transferred from the hospital to Blandino Funeral home in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

“Once they have her, they’re going to call me, and they’re going to make arrangements with me,” William told SILive.com.

“I have to get her ashes back,” William told the outlet. “Her ultimate wish was to have her ashes spread in the Florida Keys.”

The U.S. State Department has confirmed that at least six American tourists have died while vacationing in the Dominican Republic since the summer of 2018. Some of them passed away in what appear to be bizarre — and similar — circumstances.

PEOPLE confirms that both the FBI and the CDC are investigating these strange deaths, but the agencies are not yet releasing further details.

According to Univision, Robin Bernstein, the ambassador of the United States to the Dominican Republic, said last week the recent high-profile incidents were isolated cases. “We have 2.7 million Americans who come to the country and the statistics is that this is a very … unique event,” Bernstein said. “They come to visit the beautiful beaches and enjoy the great culture. Unfortunately sometimes those things happen to people.”

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Leyla Cox

On May 30, 2019, engaged couple Nathaniel Edward Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Ann Day, 49, were found dead in their hotel room at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana resort, according to a statement released by the hotel.

Holmes and Day, of Maryland, were found by resort staff after they missed their scheduled checkout time that day, per the statement.

Their bodies did not show signs of violence, USA Today reported. The Dominican Republic National Police announced that an autopsy found the couple had respiratory failure and pulmonary edema. Day also reportedly suffered cerebral edema.

Pennsylvania native Yvette Monique Sport, 51, had just arrived at the Bahia Príncipe resort in Punta Cana when she died in June 2018.

Though her death was initially ruled a heart attack, with the news that several American tourists have died at the Bahía Príncipe in Punta Cana, Sport’s cause of death is being investigated again.

RELATED: Engaged Maryland Couple Found Dead in Their Hotel Room in the Dominican Republic

David Harrison, 45, was celebrating his wedding anniversary with his wife and 12-year-old son when he died of a heart attack at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana in July of 2018.

On May 25 of this year, Pennsylvania psychotherapist Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, collapsed shortly after mixing a drink from the minibar in the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville in La Romana, where she was celebrating her ninth wedding anniversary with husband Daniel Werner.

According to autopsy results released by the Attorney General of the Dominican Republic, she died of a heart attack that caused respiratory failure and fluid accumulation in her lungs.

In April 2019, Robert Bell Wallace, 67, died while staying at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana. His niece, Chloe Arnold, told Fox News that he became ill after having a drink from his hotel room’s minibar. He was in the country to attend his stepson’s wedding.

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