A private investigator has begun the search for former Wigan and St Helens rugby league player Bryn Hargreaves who is missing in the United States.
His family believes he may have been abducted after he vanished in January with no trace.
Repeated attempts to track him down have drawn a blank and relatives have set up a fundraising page to raise funds for a private detective to take on the role.
Bryn’s older brother Gareth said: "The police over there aren’t doing anything."
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.
Gareth, from Chester, said: "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."
Super League star Hargreaves, who also played for Bradford before moving to the States to work in the oil and gas industry, vanished from his apartment in West Virginia.
Gareth, 38, said: "Bryn had mental health issues and was in severe pain with his back from a car accident in December. He had 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."
Bryn's family say there have been no withdrawals from his bank account.
They believe he has no access to cash and no ID to travel.
Gareth added: "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."
Bryn’s mother Maria and younger brother David, 34, went to the United States earlier in the year to help search for him but the saga is taking a heavy toll on the family.
Gareth, who is married with an 11-week-old baby and a three-year-old, said: "I won’t lie, it has been a bit of a struggle. If we have to go back out there we would."
The private investigator began working for the family a week ago.
They are hoping to raise at least £20,000 to offset the cost, with any remainder donated to the charity RL Cares.
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.
The Monongalia County Sheriff’s Office has been contacted for comment.
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