A private investigator has begun the search for missing ex-rugby league player Bryn Hargreaves in the United States.
It follows fears from his family that potential criminality could be behind his mysterious disappearance.
Hargreaves, 36, was reported missing more than five months ago by his employer after he failed to arrive for work and that sparked a major search by police and tracker dogs in West Virginia.
Repeated attempts to track him down drew a blank, however, and his family have set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for a private detective to take on the role.
Brother of Bryn Hargreaves opens up
“The police over there aren’t doing anything.” Bryn’s older brother Gareth, 38, 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.”
The PA news agency has contacted the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Office for comment.
Hargreaves, who played in Super League for Wigan, St Helens and Bradford before moving to the States to work in the oil and gas industry 10 years ago, vanished without trace from his apartment on January 3. And Gareth believes he may have been abducted.
“Bryn had mental health issues and was in severe pain with his back from a car accident in December,” Gareth said. “He’d also been away from his family at Christmas.
“The most likely scenarios were that he decided to harm himself or had decided to disappear for a bit and come back.
“But five months on, those two possibilities look less likely because you’ve got to think a body would turn up.
“We had his bank account investigated by the police which showed there’s no withdrawals and his wallet and his ID and passport are all still in his apartment so he had no means of access to his cash and no ID to travel.
“So you start to think of the other possibility, that he didn’t plan to go missing and that someone has had some input, through abduction or something along those lines.
“You start to think of all the weird things at the time which start to add up. When the police went around to his apartment, the door was closed but unlocked and the shower was still on.
“And on the night of his disappearance he had ordered a couple of bottles of gin from a mail order firm to be delivered in the next day or two.”
Private investigator the best option says brother
Bryn’s mother Maria and younger brother David, 34, went to America earlier in the year to help search for him but the saga is taking a heavy toll on the family.
“I won’t lie, it has been a bit of a struggle,” said Gareth, who is married with an 11-week-old baby and a three-year-old. “If we have to go back out there we would.”
The family have decided the best option is a private investigator, who began work a week ago, and are hoping to raise at least £20,000 to offset the cost.
“If we can get 30,000 rugby league fans giving a quid each, we’ve got all the funds we need to make it happen,” Gareth added.
“We’re trying to get £20,000 but how long is a piece of string? There’s over £4,500 in there so far which is phenomenal and allows us to get the ball rolling.”
Gareth says any money left will be donated to RL Cares, the charitable arm of the Rugby Football League which helped pay for Maria’s trip to the States in January and is providing her with weekly counselling.
Hargreaves played for Wigan before joining St Helens and he was in the team that won the 2008 Challenge Cup at Wembley.
He later joined Bradford but quit the game at the age of 26 when the Bulls went bust and moved to the States.
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