William Cox needed help. His mother, Leyla Cox, died suddenly in the Dominican Republic and authorities gave him 24 hours to decide if he wanted to cremate or embalm her remains.
Leyla Cox traveled to the Caribbean country on June 5 to celebrate her 53rd birthday, which was on June 9.
William Cox wasn’t convinced his mother died of natural causes.
“My mother was too healthy to pass away from a heart attack, which is what the Dominican Republic claims is the cause of death,” Cox said.
He called Greg Isaacs, his lawyer, and U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett for help.
“I need people more powerful than me to represent me in this. I cannot do it on my own. I have no authority in the Dominican Republic. I’m just simply a U.S. citizen like she is,” Cox said.
Cox said Burchett was able to help delay his mother’s cremation until Monday.
Burchett wasn’t able to offer specific details as to how he helped Cox, but he said his office can help with almost anything his constituents ask assistance with.
“People will call in and say (x,y,z) and we know that it won’t work, but we still keep trying because occasionally there’s an angle that hasn’t been pursued yet,” Burchett said.
The IRS and foreign affairs were examples of issues that Burchett’s office can’t help with too often.
He said foreign affairs can be difficult because “you’re at the whim and will of their laws.”
Burchett also serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee, so he works with the U.S. State Department often.
“We have a good relationship in those circles, so when we call they know we mean business,” Burchett said.
He said people don’t realize how dangerous another country can be for American tourists. He said that with Central American countries, drug cartels often control politics, which means laws could be more lax under criminal elements, such as death.
“By the time you hear about it, the body could already be disposed of or embalmed or cremated and that would pretty much do away with any evidence,” Burchett said.
His office can help with local issues as well.
“I don’t have anything to do with animal control at the local level, or speeders. But I know who to call to get something like that taken care of. I think that probably surprises them that we are able to do those kind of things,” Burchett explained.
Sometimes a constituent calling about, what some might think, is a small issue can lead to Burchett reaching out to Congress with a new bill.
A recent example Burchett talked about was a concern with cluster mailboxes from local constituents.
If a local ordinance or state law was created to eliminate mailboxes at a house and have only cluster mailboxes in one area of the subdivision, then residents could face unnecessary issues.
Burchett said elderly people can become a target if a criminal knows where they will be to pick up their social security checks or mail alone.
“A very prominent legislator said ‘Hey I would like to sign on that bill.’ He said, ‘that’s a problem where I live.’ And in fact, you know, that’s exactly the way government is supposed to work,” Burchett said.
He said if any constituent has an issue or concern, they can always call his office at 865-523-3772.
Cox said his mother’s body was scheduled to be cremated on Monday. He was waiting to find out if the Dominican Republic Attorney General would allow a blood sample to be taken from his mother before they cremated and shipped her remains.