Mother of British rugby star found dead in US ‘distraught’ after body found yards from home
The mother of a British rugby star who was found dead more than a year after vanishing in the United States says she is “distraught” after his body was found just yards from his home.
Former rugby league player Bryn Hargreaves was reported missing on 16 January last year, having failed to arrive for work in West Virginia.
A major search of the Monongalia County area drew a blank and his family hired a private investigator to help.
On 26 February he was found in a wooded area in the Cheat Lake area, a short distance from his home and last known location.
His mother Maria Andrews has now told The Independent: “One word won’t cover how I feel – there are so many, but I’m distraught and tormented to say the least.”
The Sheriff’s Office said on its Facebook page it is waiting for a completed autopsy report before a cause of death is confirmed.
Hargreaves’s older brother, Gareth, announced the former player’s death earlier this week. “RIP Bryn Hargreaves,” the post began. “With incredible sadness, I can confirm after 14 months we have finally found Bryn.”
He added that the family “still do not know the cause of death or what actually happened”, adding: “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 wrote on social media to say she was “heartbroken” by the news. “Not something I wanted to be sharing,” she said. “I’m in bits heartbroken my beautiful son Bryn I can’t think of any words to describe the pain xx.”
She added in a post on Tuesday: “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.”
After the rugby player was reported missing, police officers arrived at his flat in Morgantown and found the door unlocked with 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 Hargreaves down over the past year but they were unsuccessful. His family set up a GoFundMe page in a bid to raise funds for the private detective.
Hargreaves, who lived in the Whisper Creek apartment complex off South Pierpont Road, was found between South Peirpont Road and The Hannalei Development.
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 US to work in the oil and gas industry 10 years ago, shortly after his final club, the Bradford Bulls, went bust.
He previously lived in Pittsburgh with his American wife Amy, who he met in Mexico. After four years they began to live apart and eventually divorced.
As the search continued for Hargreaves last June, his brother said: “Bryn had mental health issues and was in severe pain with his back from a car accident in December . 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.”
His former clubs led tributes to him on social media after his body was found.
St Helens head coach Paul Wellens said: “On behalf of the club and from myself as a former teammate of Bryn’s, we want to extend our deepest sympathies to Bryn’s family. It’s very sad news.
“I just want to place on record how much of a respected player and person Bryn was when he played here, how much of a well liked member of the team he was and how good he was to be around on and off the field.
“He was a fierce competitor and when I spoke to our team this morning I told them ‘Bryn’s the type of guy you guys would love to have played with’. It’s a huge loss and we’re all very saddened by it.”