Knoxville man frustrated with FedEx after dead mother’s blood samples said to be lost

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — For months, Will Cox has been trying to find out more answers about his mother’s death, only to find out his last chance to do so had been lost by FedEx.

Leyla Cox, 53, died in the Dominican Republic on June 10, 2019, just one day after her birthday.

She was one of several to die in the foreign country in 2019, from reportedly “natural causes.”

Cox never believed the Dominican Republic’s cause of death report, especially because he was told that they couldn’t perform a toxicology screening.

He said their reasoning was due to all of the toxicology machines in the country not working.

So, Cox paid for the Dominican Republic to ship samples of his mother’s blood to the United States.

“I have been through a lot since June, and it seems like there’s a never-ending cycle of, I get one step forward, only to hit some more red tape,” Cox said.

Cox said that when he finally received the samples a couple of months after Leyla’s death, he had a difficult time finding someone to test it.

Will said he spoke with investigators at the medical examiner’s office in New York City, but was told they weren’t allowed to perform the toxicology.

He said the investigator told him that the FBI told the medical examiner to “stand down.”

“OCME does not have jurisdiction over deaths that occur outside of New York City. As a courtesy, and as the decedent was a city resident, we offered assistance. We have not been involved any further in this matter.”

Statement from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York

Will said his attorney then suggested a facility in Texas to perform the test: American Forensics.

The samples were being shipped from the Richmond University Medical Center, where his mother used to work, to the testing facility in Texas.

According to the tracking information, after the package was picked up, it went to a FedEx facility in Staten Island, then to another facility in Newark, New Jersey, all on Sept. 25.

On Sept. 26, the package left the Newark facility and arrived at the Memphis FedEx facility a few hours later.

The tracking stopped there.

“Every single time somebody handles it, they got to scan it in and everything like that. For them just to say it went missing and can’t tell us any information on who handled it last, it’s unbelievable. I don’t know what’s happened to it. Neither does FedEx, it seems,” Cox said.

Will said he and his attorney called FedEx multiple times to find out what happened to the package, but they always talked with a different representative, only to get a different answer.

Around Thanksgiving, Cox was given a final answer from FedEx representatives, explaining that they could not find the package.

The company gave Cox and his attorney a $100 rebate for the mistake.

WATE 6 On Your Side reached out to FedEx as well, and received the following response:

“FedEx appreciates the sensitive nature of this shipment, and we offer our sincere regret and condolences to Mr. Cox and his family. After an exhaustive search, we were unable to locate the shipment and the claims process has been completed.”

Statement from FedEx

Cox said the rebate was useless for an irreplaceable package.

“I still just want to know how my mother died. I just want to know how she passed away, even if it was of natural causes. I just want a U.S. toxicology done and FedEx has robbed me of that,” Cox said.

Will said he wants FedEx to explain how a package could simply vanish.

Cox wrote another statement in response to the most recent statement from FedEx:

“I am not satisfied with how FedEx claims the process has been completed. I’ve worked tirelessly since June to secure those samples, every single day, and for FedEx to lose (it) in less than a day is completely unacceptable. How they’ve handled this situation and continue to keep me in the dark is unacceptable.”

Will Cox

He said that something is wrong with the entire situation.

The samples would never have been shipped with FedEx had the New York City medical examiner performed the toxicology.

If FedEx found the samples, and they were intact, Cox said they could still be tested.

“The only thing that I can hope that will happen is that FedEx will do its job and find it because it’s in their hands. It’s in their facility. It’s their company. This is what they do for a living,” Cox said.

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