A former rugby league star who has been missing for 14 months has been found in a forest right in front of his home in the US.
Officials have come under fire after the remains of former St Helens player Bryn Hargreaves, 37, were formally identified on Sunday despite having been discovered late last month.
Police, firefighters, the FBI, the mountain rescue group MECCA 911 and volunteers conducted a “wide-scale search” of the area around Cheat Lake in West Virginia, where Hargreaves lived, “over a period of several months with negative success”. the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Office said.
But locals in the area were critical, with one woman asking, ‘Where were you looking?’
Bryn Hargreaves, pictured with his ex-wife Amy, was reported missing in January of last year when he failed to show up for work.
Her body was found in a woods (pictured) directly across the road from her West Virginia home, surfaced last night.
Resident Michael Weber posted: ‘How can you do a ‘wide scale search’ and not find her body that was LITERALLY found across the street from Whisper Creek Apartments? I’m calling BS on this friends’
Mr Hargreaves retired from rugby at just 26 after becoming disillusioned with the game and later moved to the US.
Hargreaves was reported missing after he failed to report to work last January, prompting a major police manhunt in West Virginia.
At the time of his disappearance, he had retired from rugby and was working as a safety inspector for oil and gas pipelines. He lived alone after his divorce from Amy Lombardo two years earlier.
Yesterday his brother Gareth confirmed his death with a Facebook post: ‘RIP Bryn Hargreaves. It is with incredible sadness that I can confirm that after 14 months we finally found Bryn.
‘We still don’t know the cause of death or what really happened on 1/3/22. Thanks to all who have helped in the search.’
Hargreaves’ last known location was his luxury apartment in the Whisper Creek Complex, near Morgantown in Monongalia County. Her body was found between South Pierpont Road and Hanalei Drive, a short distance from her apartment.
Mr. Hargreaves disappeared from his home in Whisper Creek outside Morgantown in West Virginia (pictured), where he had moved after retiring from rugby.
Mr Hargreaves’ home was discovered empty and police said they were sure he was not using his Jeep, pictured
Gareth Hargreaves, Bryn’s brother, announced yesterday that his brother’s body had been found on Facebook.
Gareth Hargreaves announced the passing of his brother Bryn on Facebook yesterday
Her mother, Maria Andrews, told local television station WBOY last year: ‘Where she lives, she’s amazing. But unfortunately, it is so isolated. And that’s what happened, he became a recluse.
She said she believed he was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, due to his repeated blows to the head in rugby union.
It gave him seizures that would not go away and he crashed his Jeep on December 8, 2021, after having one while driving on the highway. He had to stop working after the accident, his mother said.
Mr Hargreaves played in the Super League for Wigan, St Helens and Bradford, who he is seen representing here.
The retired player, from Wigan, made 175 appearances in the sport’s top flight, the Super League, for Wigan Warriors, St Helens and Bradford Bulls.
Mr Hargreaves had a distinctive tattoo on his shoulder (pictured) which his family hoped would help locate their son.
“That would have been Bryn’s worst nightmare because she couldn’t walk, she was in bed,” she said.
Another local, Kiley Marie, commented on the location of the remains on Facebook: “That’s literally across the street from where Bryn Hargreaves lived.”
She noted that police searched the area when he went missing in the winter, but added: “Maybe they missed him in the brush.”
Sky Sports and Hargreaves’ former clubs Wigan Warriors and Bradford Bulls paid tribute to him.
“I feel so bad for his family, all this time with no answers…I couldn’t help but think of him being so close to where he disappeared.”
Another resident, Jacinda Hickman, posted: ‘Oh my gosh… I live right next door to where Bryn lived and the wooded area has had a horrible stench for quite some time. I had no idea of her disappearance until I saw previous comments.
The Sheriff’s Office said it was awaiting a full autopsy report before determining the cause and manner of death. Once that report is received, an updated press release will be made available.