Reverend Eric Freed of St. Bernard's Catholic Parish in Eureka, California was found dead in the rectory of the church yesterday. The priest failed to show up for morning Mass, and someone was sent to check on him.
According to the Times-Standard, Police Chief Andrew Mills has confirmed that his department is pursuing a murder investigation in connection with the death of the priest. The priest's car was also stolen during the crime.
"It's a violent crime and obviously, with this kind of response, we're taking it very seriously,” said the Chief.
As of right now, no one is in custody. However, Eureka police have now issued a warrant for one Gary Lee Bullock in connection with the murder.
According to a local news site, the warrant contains these further details:
On Dec. 31, 2013 BULLOCK was the subject of a radio call regarding a person who was acting strangely in the Garberville area of southern Humboldt County. Humboldt County deputies located and arrested BULLOCK for public intoxication. He was taken to jail where he was rejected due to his erratic behavior.
BULLOCK was then taken to the hospital for evaluation where he became more agitated and had to be physically restrained by deputies. BULLOCK was ultimately booked into jail at 1634 hours.
Gary BULLOCK was released at 0043 hours on January 1, 2014. At about 0200 hours officers from Eureka Police Department were dispatched to 615 H Street, regarding a suspicious person. Officers contacted BULLOCK nad found that BULLOCK was not intoxicated and did not qualify for an emergency psychological hold. Officers referred BULLOCK to an emergency shelter for the night.
Later that evening a security guard heard noise in the area of the church and went to investigate. He saw a person matching BULLOCK’s description and directed him to leave the property after a short conversation.
At about 9 AM officers were dispatched to to the church Rectory where parishioners found Reverend Fathers Eric Freed badly injured. Officers and a doctor, who is a parishioner at St. Bernard, observed that he was deceased. The exact cause of death has yet to be determined and an autopsy is scheduled for Saturday. It does appear that there was blunt force trauma to the victim.
EPD’s investigation into this homicide has revelaed that forced entry was made into the parsonage and a violent struggle ensued. The pastor’s vehicle was also noticed missing during the crime scene search.
Image via St. Bernards Parish