California Authorities Name Gary Lee Bullock As Suspect In Murder Of Father Eric Freed, Found Dead In Church Rectory On Wednesday, Highlight Hollywood News
The death of a beloved Roman Catholic priest in California has been ruled a homicide, the county coroner said Thursday. The Rev. Eric Freed, 56, was found dead Wednesday in his church’s rectory, spurring a murder investigation and leaving those who knew him in disbelief. Police on Thursday named a suspect, Gary Lee Bullock, and announced that an arrest warrant for him has been issued. Authorities are looking for Bullock and for Freed’s vehicle, a 2010 Nissan Altima.
Eureka, California, Police Chief Andy Mills did not give a suspected motive for the killing, but described a series of run-ins with the law that Bullock had in the hours before Freed’s death.
On New Year’s Eve, deputies responded to reports of a person “acting strangely” in southern Humboldt County. Bullock was arrested for public intoxication, but because of his erratic behavior was taken to a hospital for an evaluation. He was eventually booked in jail that afternoon.
Bullock was released in the early morning hours of January 1, and less than two hours later police made contact with him again regarding a report of a suspicious person, Mills said.
The man was not intoxicated and did not qualify for a psychological hold, so police referred him to a shelter, Mills said.
At some point in the hours after that, a guard at Freed’s church found a person matching Bullock’s description on the premises and told him to leave the property, police said.
Freed’s body was found later that morning. Mayor Frank Jager said Freed was a personal friend and a “tremendous person in this community” since his arrival three years ago. The St. Bernard Parish website featured a cross and the words, “Rest in Peace” above Freed’s name.
An autopsy will be performed Saturday, Humboldt County Coroner David Parris said.
“He was a really, genuinely warm individual,” said professor Stephen Cunha, the chairman of Humboldt University’s religious studies department where Freed taught for more than 10 years. “… Kind is the word that comes to mind, sensitive.”