Cold Case Spotlight – Bryan Wrigley

By Carole Hawkins

Somebody knows who killed Bryan Wrigley.

That’s what his mother, Mandy Wrigley, believes. There was just too much physical evidence at the crash scene. Too much damage for the hit-and-run driver to hide. A witness who saw the driver speeding away.

“I’ll go to my grave wanting this to be solved,” said Mandy, who has sojourned from the family’s South Carolina home to Florida many times in search of a new clue.

Bryan, 23, was riding his bicycle eastbound on County Road 214 in St. Johns County, Florida, when a vehicle crossed the center line and struck him head-on. The crash occurred shortly after 3 p.m. on April 13, 2011, near Poa Boy Farms Road.

An avid bicyclist, Bryan was a graduate student at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences who wanted to become a physical therapist. He was killed instantly and left lying in a ditch on the side of the road.

Police found debris strewn up and down the highway. There were bicycle parts, a smashed frame, athletic shoes, and a bumper that investigators say belongs to a blue Ford Ranger pick-up truck. It’s a 2001-2003 model with an extended cab and a two-toned bumper, black on the bottom, silver on the top and fitted with fog lights.

A witness came forward who had seen a blue Ford Ranger at the intersection of County Roads 214 and 13 on the day of the crash. The truck had a bicycle tire wedged in the front. The driver was a white male, age 18-21, with dark hair.

Mandy believes someone knows who the driver is—his parents, someone who saw the damaged truck, or someone at the body shop where it was repaired.

Since Bryan’s death, she has advertised on billboards, given TV and newspaper interviews, worked a crime tips phone bank, and gotten a memorial sign posted along the highway.

“I’ve done everything I can think of. I’ve talked to everyone I know of. I just have to keep talking and hoping that people will keep asking questions,” she said.

Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida has offered a reward of $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest, and Mandy said the family is prepared to match that amount.

The life taken by that hit-and-run was a good life.

Bryan grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. He studied biology at Newberry College and graduated summa cum laude. A compassionate, caring person, he volunteered for the Special Olympics and was active in his school’s student ministry.

It wasn’t until Bryan’s death that Mandy would learn about many of the people he had helped. The line of people at Bryan’s visitation stretched all the way around thebuilding. Some included children he had tutored who had come to thank the family.

“He was always a giving child. But he was never one to brag about what he was doing,” Mandy said.

Bryan wanted to either become a pediatrician, so he could help kids, or go into geriatrics, so he could help people like his aging grandparents.

When he started going to school at the University of St. Augustine, he realized he was the youngest one in the class. He grew a beard.

“I thought it looked pretty good on him,” Mandy said.

He also loved riding his bicycle.

On the day Bryan was killed, Mandy knew something was wrong. He’d normally call home every night and it was getting late. At 10 p.m., a friend of Bryan’s called.

“She was so upset, I could barely understand her,” Mandy said. “She said ‘Bryan was hit while riding his bike, and he didn’t make it.’ And she just went to pieces.”

Mandy went into shock. Bryan’s twin brother and grandfather drove down to St. Augustine. Mandy and Bryan’s father made phone calls, trying to find out what had happened.

Around midnight, officers came to her door and told her she needed to contact the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. Bryan had been killed.

His death left a void. There’s an empty chair at the holidays. He missed his brother’s wedding, missed out on getting married himself. Kevin, his twin, hardly knows how to celebrate the birthday they share.

Meanwhile, Mandy keeps looking for clues

“I need justice for Bryan. He deserves it,” she said. “Bryan was an outstanding human being, who was going to give so much back to the community.”

There’s so much information out there. All it will take to solve it is that one person who knows something. Just one more little break.

Bryan’s life was stolen from his family and friends by a coward that chose not to do the right thing that night, or since. If you have any information, no matter how small you think it is, about the truck, driver, or hit and run crash that killed Bryan Wrigley, please call the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Unit at (904) 209-1498 or the agency’s main number at (904) 824-8304. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward, contact Crime Stoppers at 1(888) 277-TIPS.

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If you have a loved one that is the victim of an unsolved homicide please submit their case here for consideration in a future Cold Case Spotlight post.