James Patrick Grealis (Missing Person)
A young Irish expat disappeared after checking out of his hotel. There has been no trace of him in more than a decade, despite an extremely close relationship with his family.
Alternatieve naam: Ik weet het niet
Ainmneacha Malartacha: Níl a fhios agam
Disappearance (Verdwijning) (An Cealú)
Missing from: Area of Duivelsbruglaan in Breda, The Netherlands
Date Missing: October 23, 2008 (Thursday)
Plaats: Duivelsbruglaan, Breda, Nederland
Datum van de verdwijning: 23 oktober 2008 (donderdag)
De verdachte: Ik weet het niet
Suíomh: Breda, An Ísiltír
Dáta an Imithe: 23 Deireadh Fómhair, 2008 (Déardaoin)
An Amhras: Níl a fhios agam
Circumstances (Omstandigheden) (Cúinsí)
James (“JP”) was the only boy and youngest of five siblings raised in Tonragee, Achill in County Mayo of Ireland. The family was not financially well-off, but the children were close and had a happy childhood. JP was an easy-going guy known in the region for playing football and for being very loyal to his family. He trained as a carpenter but found it difficult to get a job in Achill. In search of new opportunities, he eventually moved to England and worked as a handyman for a few years while living near one of his sisters.
Then in 2007, stories of greater opportunities in the Netherlands began to reach him from fellow Achill natives who had moved and found decent work there. He traveled with only his backpack of clothes, his phone, and his passport — setting off in April 2007. Despite living away from home for so many years, JP never failed to call his parents each week and would also call each of his sisters frequently to stay in touch.
Eventually, he shifted on to Eindhoven where he was employed with various temp agencies. In August 2008, he met a fellow expat from Scotland, James Lennon (‘James L.’). They began working together at a new company in Someren as JP moved to a campsite in Lierop.
James L. describes JP as a “quiet, nice guy” whose only fault was a passion for drinking, brought on seemingly from homesickness and general loneliness. When he drank, he could be “noisy and sometimes downright annoying” — as a result he was banned from the Someren pubs and often went out in Eindhoven instead (Link).
It is not clear how good his Dutch was at this point.
On October 17, 2008, JP lost his position in Someren (1*). What happened next is not clear. Some records suggest he remained in Eindhoven for a few days; while others say he traveled up to Rotterdam with James L. to look for new jobs (Link, Link). In any case, he didn’t find a new job and relocated back to his original haunts in Breda on October 20. The owner of his hostel remembered him as a guest, calling him a “nice boy” with a drinking problem. He said JP only caused problems once while drunk and, following a discussion addressing the issue, he was an excellent guest afterward.
According to some articles, JP might have been rooming with another guy whose identity remains unknown.
(1*) Some articles suggest JP was fired from Someren while others say he left when the job was finished — we cannot say exactly why he left.
JP did find a position with a local construction company in nearby Terheijden, but he only worked there for one day (October 21).(2*)
(2*) We aren’t sure whether the job in Terheijden was a temporary position only meant to last a day or a more serious position that he actually quit.
On October 22, JP called several temp agencies throughout the Netherlands and England as well as the company in Terheijden. His calls to England tie into a comment he made at some point to his family that he was tired of the Netherlands and was considering moving back to the UK. We do not know what was discussed in his calls to Terheijdn.
He also made several calls to his old travel buddy James L. but was unable to reach him.
His phone also recorded several calls to individuals unfamiliar to his family. This included a call to a Spanish-speaking woman who was married and living in Breda at that time. According to police, the woman’s identity cannot be made public since she was residing in a psychiatric facility at the time. There is no information about how she was related to JP or what they discussed. Another number he called remains unidentified but is listed at (06) 4996–5163.3
That night, multiple witnesses testified that they saw JP in a pub in central Breda and later in Teteringen (a district of Breda). At some point, police in Teteringen found him intoxicated at an intersection trying to act as a traffic controller. They gave him a warning and told him to go home and sleep it off.
3The information about the phone calls is based on reports from 2010 and the family may have found more details about these individuals since.
By the morning of October 23, JP was short on money and called his parents in Ireland for the last time asking them to transfer him some funds. He let them know he was planning to look for work in a new town and hung up. At this point, there was nothing untoward in his manner and no sign that he was under anything but financial stress.
He checked out of his hotel and headed to Breda Station where he pulled money out at the Travelex. One source says he topped up his phone on October 24, but there was no information about where he was at the time. We do not know where he was staying at this point, although he was known to frequent anything from hotels to hostels to campsites in his travels. Short on money, he probably would go somewhere particularly cheap.
He appears to have made it as far as Eindhoven and/or Helmond according to potential sightings in the first week of November.
At this point, he completely disappeared without a trace. He has not touched the money i his bank accounts or used his phone in the more than a decade since. Due to his habit of calling different sisters at different times, his family did not officially notice that he had disappeared until a week and a half later when he failed to check in again.
- April 2007 ➜ Move to Eindhoven
- August 2008 ➜ New Job in Someren
- October 17, 2008 ➜ Lost his job. May have travelled to Rotterdam with James L.
- October 20, 2008 ➜ Checked into a Breda hostel.
- October 21, 2008 ➜ Worked in Terheijden
- October 22, 2008 ➜ Made several calls and was seen in Central Breda and Teteringen that evening.
- October 23, 2008 ➜ Checked out of the hostel. Withdraws money near Breda Station.
- October 24, 2008 ➜ Might have topped up his phone.
- November 2008 ➜ Possible sighting in Eindhoven and/or Helmond
Over the years, JP’s family has continually begged for a more stringent investigation and for the public to come forward with information.
JP may still be in the Netherlands as his listing with Interpol would trigger an alert with border police if his passport was scanned. This would only apply however to the time after he was registered in the database. The family’s DNA is also registered with Ireland’s KLPD database which shares those records with other European police systems. The family immediately flew to Breda as soon as they realized they hadn’t heard from him and couldn’t locate him in the city.
Throughout the years, the family has fought with Dutch police to demand greater emphasis on the case.
In the first place, Dutch police continually reaffirmed the law that an adult individual can leave and act as they choose without investigation unless there is a clear sign of a crime being committed. According to Dutch Law, the police cannot legally obtain private or sensitive data on an individual (e.g., financial statements, phone records) unless they can demonstrate reasonable “suspicion” of a crime. This is to protect the individual’s right to privacy and right to live as they choose. A person legally can cease contacting family or friends as they wish without triggering a full investigation breaching their privacy. These ideals also shape similar policies that prohibit family and friends from accessing medical records, educational records, psychological records, etc. without permission from the individual in question. Once a person is an adult, the police are very limited in when they can access or share sensitive information.
Unfortunately, JP’s family believes these policies may have hindered the investigation into JP’s disappearance. In this case, the last official sighting of JP was him leaving the hostel under no signs of duress. He checked out of the local hotel with no evidence that he booked a new room in the area. He had clearly stated intentions to move onto a new place and to possibly leave the Netherlands altogether in the near future. He had a clearly established pattern of living transitorily, moving from job opportunity to job opportunity at short notice. Although he had traditionally remained in close contact with his family, the possible sightings in Helmond or Eindhoven (if confirmed) would suggest he had gone at least a couple of weeks without reaching out. There was no physical evidence to suggest that he met with foul play or had left his current situation under threats or force.
At the time police were hard pressed to prove serious suspicion of a crime with any immediacy. They dismissed the case as that of a man who had simply decided to leave and start anew somewhere else. They frequently reiterated that JP was just someone who came to wander around while drinking before he left the city for greener pastures elsewhere.
Hindsight is 20–20, but the police failed to readjust their position later despite the fact that JP never reappeared as more than a decade passed. The family believes the police did not take the situation seriously, dismissing him as just a ‘tramp’ or ‘bum’ and allowing this personal bias to cloud the investigation. They suggest the police did not find evidence of a crime because they failed to look, not because there was no crime committed.
In 2012, the Dutch police announced that the case was closed, and the family followed up with a civil complaint against the police. They lost the complaint due to an inability to prove the involvement of a crime, but went on to protest the handling of his case with outher Irish citizens outside the Dutch embassy in Dublin on March 13, 2012.
The family argues that JP was not the kind of person who would simply vanish and cut off contact, nor was he a suicide risk. Although he enjoyed drinking, he was not usually an aggressive drunk and had no criminal record. According to his sisters, JP was in regular contact with his parents and appeared to be doing fine in the days leading up to his disappearance. He was actively engaged in looking for work and was pursuing new job opportunities. He had also made arrangements for an upcoming holiday in Ibiza and bought a ticket home for Christmas. His family continue to believe that the most likely possibility was that he encountered foul play.
There is some concern that JP might have ended up in a brawl or gotten into trouble while drinking somewhere. JP had been picked up by police in the past for being publicly intoxicated on the streets one day. He told them that since he could not be with his sister on her birthday, he was celebrating on his own. In another incident, he found himself in a fight with some Moroccans that ended with him receiving a knife wound to his ribs.
In 2019, the family adopted a new strategy, bringing on a private investigator and launching a new public appeal from the Netherlands. They also continue to offer a 20,000€ reward for details that lead to the recovery of JP. As of 2022, it is not clear if there has been any new insight generated.
The case received new attention in 2018 and 2019 when the delivery company “Deliveroo” began marking their bags with posters of 5 long-term missing persons including JP. This project was known as Ride to Find.
“We know our brother, we know if everything was OK, he would let us know where he is and he would come home.” . . . . “You just have to keep living in the hope you’ll find him.”
Helen (Sister). Source: Irish Sun
*You can watch the video of the sister’s appeal to the public in 2019 here.
Description (Beschrijving) (Tuairisc)
Date of Birth: March 14, 1984
Age at Disappearance: 24
Gender at Birth: Male
Hair: Red, Wavy Hair
Eye Color: Blue Eyes
Height: 5’9″ (178cm)*
Weight: Slim but with Broad Shoulders
Languages Spoken: English
Geboortedatum: 14 maart 1984
Geslacht bij geboorte: Mannelijk
Haarkleur: Rood haar
Oogkleur: Blauwe ogen
Hoogte: 5’9″ (178cm)
Gewicht: Slank met brede schouders
Talen die hij sprak: Béarla
Dáta breithe: 14 Márta, 1984
Inscne ag Breith: Fireann
Dath gruaige: Gruaig rua
Dath Súl: Súile gorma
Airde: 5’9″ (178cm)
Meáchan: Caol le Gualainn Leathan
Teangacha a Labhair sé: Béarla
*James is sometimes described as 5’8″ or 5’9″ and possibly at around 175cm (Link), but police list him at 178cm which would put him at 5’10” instead.
Distinguishing Marks or Factors (Onderscheidende Kenmerken) (Tréithe Idirdhealaitheacha)
- He often walked with his hands in his sleeves
- Hij liep vaak met zijn handen in zijn mouwen
- Is minic a shiúil sé lena lámha ina muinchillí
Clothing (Kleding) (Éadaí)
Sweatshirt met capuchon
Sweatshirt le cochall air
If You or Anyone You Know Has Information About The Disappearances, Please Contact:
- Dutch Police — National Missing Persons Bureau (Case #08261250)
Telephone: +31 (79) 345–8882
Website Tip Form: Link
- Ireland Gardai (Achill)
Telephone: +35 (398) 20–830
- Missing Persons Helpline (Ireland)
Telephone: 1 (800) 911–999
Or use the QR Code to find contact information for the National Police.
Als u informatie heeft over de verdwijningen, neem dan contact op met: Nederlandse politie (zaak #08261250) op +31 (398) 345–8882 of vermiste personen Ierland op +35 (1800) 911–999 of firstname.lastname@example.org. Of gebruik de QR-code (links) om contact op te nemen met de Nationale Politie
Single Record Page - The Suitcase Detective
Use "back button" to return to search results. *Images related to unsolved cases or unidentified remains may be graphic…
Single Record Page - The Suitcase Detective
Use "back button" to return to search results. *Images related to unsolved cases or unidentified remains may be graphic…
James Patrick Grealis (Mayo)
Missing from Breda Netherlands since 23 Oct 2008 Born: 1984 Age: 24 Height: 178 cm Hair: Red Eye: Blue Build: On…
- Interpol Notice. Link
- Missing Person’s Support, Facebook. 31 January 2020. Link
- Anderson, N. (2019) ”IN LIMBO’ Distraught family of missing Mayo man JP Grealis hire Dutch crime investigator to help solve mystery disappearance’, Irish Sun, 11 January. Link.
- Cummins, B. (2019) ‘Sisters make appeal in Holland to find missing Mayo man’, RTE, 19 January. Link
- Mayo Advertiser (2009) ‘Achill man still missing in Holland’, 23 January. Link
- Murphy, S. (2019) ‘Sisters of missing James Patrick Grealis make moving Dutch TV appeal to find brother’, Extra.ie, 23 January. Link
- Murphy, S. (2019) ‘Family of missing Achill islander hire Dutch private detective to help solve case’, Extra.ie, 1 December, Link.
- McNulty, A. (2019) ‘Grealis family make fresh appeal to end ten years of ‘torment’’, Mayo News, 22 January. Link
- Waarheidsvinder (2010) ‘De verdwijning van James Patrick Grealis’, 20 April. Link
- Waarheidsvinder (2010) ‘Ierse beloning voor gouden tip in zaak James Patrick Grealis’, 14 August. Link
- Waarheidsvinder (2010) ‘Verhoging beloning in zaak James Patrick Grealis’, 24 December. Link
- Waarheidsvinder (2011) ‘Alsnog onderzoek naar verdwijning James Patrick Grealis’, 8 November. Link.
- Waarheidsvinder (2012) ‘Alsnog onderzoek naar verdwijning James Patrick Grealis’, 13 March. Link
- Waarheidsvinder (2013) ‘Familie Grealis dient klacht in tegen politie’, 12 January. Link
- Panorama (2017) ‘Niemand weet waar de vermiste James Patrick Grealis is’, 31 May. Link
- Bray, A. (2014) ‘Family vows to keep looking for answers on missing man’, Independent, 3 July. Link
- Armstrong, K. (2017) ”Mum died not knowing what happened to him’ — Fresh appeal for Irish man who went missing in 2008′, Independent, 11 January. Link
- Ring, E. (2012) ‘Missing man’s family unhappy with Dutch investigation’, Irish Examiner, 15 March. Link
- Missing Persons.ie. ‘Missing Persons Mayo’. Link
- Conway, I. (2010) ‘Reward offered for information on missing Irishman’, Irish Times, 16 August. Link
- Solanki, M. (2019) ‘Dutch fast food delivery drivers display missing persons posters’, I Am Expat, May. Link