If there has been a story that has shocked the rugby league fraternity to its core in recent months it has been the disappearance of former Wigan Warriors, Bradford Bulls and St Helens forward Bryn Hargreaves.
Tomorrow marks six months since Hargreaves was first reported missing from his home in the United States after leaving the UK following retirement.
Police were called to his flat in Morgantown, West Virginia, on January 16 after downstairs neighbours reported water leaking in from Hargreaves’ room upstairs. Officers found Bryn’s flat unlocked, with all his belongings left behind and his shower still running.
Fears that Hargreaves had been abducted dominated headlines and one friend even named those he believes could be involved.
One told the Daily Mirror: “There’s just no way I could see he’d ever do anything to harm himself. As soon as the news emerged that Bryn had vanished, I immediately thought of those capable of causing him harm. Many of us know them.
“In the industry we work in, it’s run like the Mob. Not just pipes but concrete boots are a trade tool if someone stands in the way of the wrong guys. Bryn didn’t allow anyone to cut corners, which may have upset some. I have a strong opinion over who that may be.”
The man went on to name several individuals he believed could possibly have been involved.
Another believed that Hargreaves would never have harmed himself: “When Bryn and Amy married he was so happy. You couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. Everyone thought they had the most beautiful marriage, so it was a huge shock to learn they divorced.
“It must have devastated him but there is no way he’d harm himself. It smacks of others’ involvement.”
Bryn’s brother, Gareth, had previously believed that he could have been abducted.
“It’s almost like he was abducted from his shower,” his brother Gareth previously told Lancashire Live.
“It’s certainly a fear of mine. Obviously he was having mental health issues and in severe pain with his back from a car accident in December.
“I think the police thought he’d done something to himself and that certainly is a possibility that we also fear. But five months later, surely a body would have turned up.
“It’s a bit strange if you wanted to disappear to leave your apartment unlocked with all your ID and some of your prized possessions. It’s one of the reasons I can’t leave this. If he’s had a rubbish time and had enough so he’s taken himself away, that’s fair enough.
“But if something has happened and we didn’t try to help or find him I could never forgive myself.”
Gareth, Bryn’s brother, has set up a GoFundMe page in order to hire a private investigator – and now the PA News Agency has revealed that such a person has been hired.
“The police over there aren’t doing anything,” told the PA news agency. “There are a few things that have come to light that need to be investigated that haven’t been previously.
“The only way we can make that happen is through a private investigator. There’s possible leads and motives that could lead to criminal outcomes.”
Gareth had previously said: “They turned over every stone as you can imagine, but it’s just gone cold.
“It’s been dreadful, it’s been the worst five months of my life. My mum is broken, she’s having counselling, it’s taken such a toll on her.
“My brother has just got married and it’s a lot for him to take on. I’ve just had a baby, who is nine weeks old now so we’ve had to put it on the back burner for a little bit but now I’m trying to get life back together and chase this again.
“I want to find him, I want to bring him home. If that’s not possible, I need closure. I just don’t understand what’s happened.”
He said they had help from people “from all walks of life”, including former district attorneys and judges, but “nothing was found”.
The GoFundMe page states: “Hi, my name is Gareth Hargreaves; I’m the brother of ex Wigan, St Helens and Bradford player Bryn Hargreaves, who has been missing in the USA since 3rd January 2022. www.findbrynjack.com
“Bryn left the UK and rugby league 10 years ago to go to the USA. He has had some unfortunate life events and became isolated due to covid, leading to mental health issues of late.
“We appreciate all the hard work of the local/sate police departments and helpful community, but unfortunately, after 5 MONTHS, there have been NO LEADS OR PROGRESS.
“My mum and brother flew out to the USA on 28th January for 7 weeks, thanks to the support of Rugby League Cares, for which we will be eternally grateful. Despite gathering further information and investigating many avenues, there are still NO LEADS OR PROGRESS.
“We are no closer to finding Bryn after 5 months and fear for his welfare.
“We would now like to appoint a private investigator, following legal advice from a former assistant district attorney in the USA.
“For this, we need your help! We hope friends, work colleagues, well-wishers and the rugby league community will support us in our quest to find my brother and bring him home!
“Our goal is to raise £20,000 to fund private investigators to look into Bryn’s disappearance.
“All monies donated will principally be used to fund the investigation into Bryn’s disappearance.
“The fund balance may be used in repatriation if the worst is found.
“Some monies may need to be used for legal expenses in sorting and protecting Bryn’s assets, with my mum potentially needing to go back over to the USA to do so.
“Any remaining balance will be donated to Rugby League Cares to continue their great work in the aftercare of players and generally within the rugby league community.”