Hundreds attended a funeral Mass for a well-loved priest in Eureka Monday just hours after the coroner released an autopsy report that revealed Rev. Eric Freed was beaten to death with a wooden stake and a metal gutter pipe, according to the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office.
The Southern California native was found dead inside the St. Bernard Church rectory on New Year’s Day after he failed to show up for Mass, Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills said.
His accused killer, Gary Lee Bullock was charged Monday with murder with a special allegation of torture, according to court records.
Bullock, 44, pleaded not guilty. He was being held on $1.2 million bail.
Bullock was arrested on New Year’s Eve for public intoxication and released at 12:45 a.m. on New Year’s Day, Eureka police said in a press release.
Less than two hours later, Bullock was spotted at St. Bernard Church at which time he was referred to a shelter, police said.
The priest’s body was discovered around 9 a.m. that morning.
Freed grew up in Covina and graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 1979, according to an Associated Press report.