On New Years Day, a beloved Priest was found murdered in the rectory of St. Benard’s Church in California.
He was discovered after he failed to show up for morning Mass.
It wasn’t clear exactly how the Priest, Rev. Eric Freed died. Police said his body did show signs of blunt force trauma. Investigators found clear signs of forced entry into the church.
The night Freed was killed, a security guard reported hearing noise coming from near the church and went to investigate. He spoke with a man matching the description of Gary Lee Bullock who had been detained by police just hours earlier and subsequently released.
Here is the report from the AP on the timeline:
“Bullock was initially arrested on Tuesday for public intoxication in Garberville and taken to jail in Eureka, His erratic behavior led police to send him to a hospital for an evaluation.”
“He became agitated and deputies had to restrain him. He was booked into jail for about eight hours then released shortly after midnight.”
“At 2 a.m. Wednesday, Eureka police responded to a call about a suspicious person a couple blocks from the jail and a short distance from the church where Freed was found.”
“Officers referred Bullock to an emergency shelter for the night. Later that evening, a security guard heard noise near the church and went to investigate. He saw a man matching Bullock’s description and, after a short conversation, told him to leave the property, police said.”
Some of the parishoners at Freed’s church struggled with the thought that police released a man who’s behavior was erratic enough to need pyschological attention at a mental hospital.
One parishoner said, “Our police do a good job, but something is broken in our system if we can have people arrested and released.” She went on to say, “We’ve got people here who want to be caring and compassionate towards. But there’s got to be a better way.”
Eureka Mayor, Frank Jager had this to say about the beloved priest:
“Every once in a while, you meet one of those people who is truly wonderful — someone you’d like to clone and fill the world with,” Jager said. “He was one of those people.”
KIEM TV has reported that police have just arrested Bullock for the second time, but this time he won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.