Body of rugby player Bryn Hargreaves found just yards from home after 14 months

Bryn Hargreaves (right) with his mother Maria Andrews (Maria Andrews/Facebook)
Bryn Hargreaves (right) with his mother Maria Andrews (Maria Andrews/Facebook)

The body of former British rugby league player Bryn Hargreaves, who went missing more than a year ago, was found yards from his home, it has been revealed.

Mr Hargreaves, who was 36 at the time, was reported missing on 16 January 2022, having failed to arrive for work in West Virginia in the US.

Monongalia County Sheriff's Office said his disappearance sparked a “large scale” search of the Cheat Lake area led by police and tracker dogs “over a several month period”, which had no success.

Bryn Hargreaves during his time playing for St Helens (PA Archive)
Bryn Hargreaves during his time playing for St Helens (PA Archive)

Yet on 26 February, Mr Hargreaves’ remains were found in a wooded area between South Peirpont Road and The Hannalei Development in the Cheat Lake area of Monongalia County, West Virginia. This is mere yards away from his home and last known location, the Whisper Creek Apartment Complex, which is off of South Pierpont Road, in Monongalia County.

The player’s mother, Maria Andrews, posted on Facebook on Tuesday, alongside the caption “heartbroken xxx”, “My Son. I closed my eyes but for a moment and suddenly a man stood where my boy used to be. I may not be able to carry you now in my arms, but I will always carry you in my heart. You have given me so many reasons to be proud of the man you have become, but the proudest moment for me is telling others that you are My Son. I LOVE YOU NOW AND FOREVER.”

The Sheriff’s Office said on its Facebook page it is waiting for a completed autopsy report before a cause and manner of death is determined.

Mr Hargreaves’ older brother, Gareth Hargreaves, announced the former player’s death on Facebook 14 months after he was last seen.

“RIP Bryn Hargreaves,” the post began. “With incredible sadness, I can confirm after 14 months we have finally found Bryn. We still do not know the cause of death or what actually happened on 3/1/22. Thanks to all those that have helped in the search. We would appreciate a little space and will keep you updated when we have any further information x.”

Ms Andrews also previously posted her thoughts, writing that she was “heartbroken” by the news. “Not something I wanted to be sharing,” she wrote. “I’m in bits #heartbroken my beautiful son Bryn I can’t think of any words to describe the pain xx.”

Ms Andrews said she was “heartbroken” by the news (Facebook)
Ms Andrews said she was “heartbroken” by the news (Facebook)

The rugby player had been reported missing on 16 January last year, and when police officers arrived at his flat in Morgantown, West Virginia, they found the door unlocked and his shower running. Monongalia County Sheriff’s Office used sniffer dogs in the Cheat Lake area but were not able to find him.

There were repeated attempts to track Mr Hargreaves down over the past year but they were unsuccessful. His family set up a GoFundMe page in a bid to raise funds for a private detective to take on the role of finding him.

Mr Hargreaves was born in Wigan and achieved his boyhood dream of playing in the Super League for the Warriors. He also played for St Helens, where he won the 2008 Challenge Cup, before moving to the United States to work in the oil and gas industry 10 years ago, shortly after his final club, the Bradford Bulls, went bust.

The rugby player as a young boy (Maria Andrews/Facebook)
The rugby player as a young boy (Maria Andrews/Facebook)

He previously lived in Pittsburgh with his American wife Amy, whom he met in Mexico. After four years they began to live apart and eventually divorced.

At the time of Hargreaves’ disappearance, his family believed that he may have been abducted.

“Bryn had mental health issues and was in severe pain with his back from a car accident in December (2021),” Gareth explained last June as they desperately continued the search. “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 were 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.”