The following comes from a Jan. 2 story in the Humboldt Times-Standard. St. Bernard was featured in the Nov. 15 Cal Catholic (Churches worth driving to).
The Eureka Police Department launched a murder investigation Wednesday after a popular St. Bernard Church priest was found dead after failing to show up to Mass.
Police Chief Andrew Mills declined to identify the victim in the case, but Mayor Frank Jager confirmed that Rev. Eric Freed was found deceased in the rectory building on the church property shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday. Mills said no suspects or persons of interest have been identified in the case and released few details about the slaying. But, Mills assured the public during a press conference in front of the church Wednesday afternoon, EPD will expend every resource to conduct a complete and thorough investigation.
Parishioner Winette Treder said she was in the church — located at Sixth and H streets — for Mass at 9 a.m. She said when Freed didn’t show up, Deacon Frank Weber went to look for him. ”He came in and said there was something terribly wrong with Father Eric,” Treder said, adding that she and fellow parishioners then said the Rosary for Freed until police eventually asked them to leave the church.
According to police scanner traffic — a recording of which was posted online by the Lost Coast Outpost — police were called to the scene shortly after 9 a.m. to a report of an unconscious male. An ambulance was summoned to the scene but quickly called off after a responding officer reported the victim was confirmed to be deceased. Mills declined to say if there’s any indication when Freed was killed, but parishioners said he delivered Mass at the church Tuesday evening, and was seen in the church as late as 6:20 p.m.
Police cordoned off the entire church property with yellow crime scene tape, and Mills said his department assembled a team, “with as much expertise as we could possibly muster” to conduct the investigation, with personnel from EPD, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and the California Department of Justice all participating. A crowd of about 100 community members assembled at the church for Mills’ press conference, and a teary eyed Jager said Freed was a friend — a tremendous person whose slaying is a great loss, not just to St. Bernard Church but to the entire community. ”For those of us who believe in prayer, this is the time for that,” Jager said.
A popular priest, Freed was formally installed as St. Bernard’s Parish pastor in August 2011. In addition to his priestly duties, Freed also taught in the Religious Studies Department at Humboldt State University and was director of the campus Newman Center, which celebrates Mass and offers a gathering place for Catholic students, staff and community members. Freed lived in Japan for more than 20 years, and participated in Arcata’s annual Lantern Ceremony held in memory of the victims of the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He also wrote the story of Hiroshima bombing survivor Hiroko Takanashi as an introduction to 11 haikus she wrote about her experience in the book titled “The Experience of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima in Poem.”
During a 2009 interview with the Times-Standard, Freed said he translated the poems to English with the hope it would help others connect with the experiences of the survivors of the bombing. Wednesday afternoon, police were called to Sacred Heart Church on Myrtle Avenue, where a church employee reported an unlawful entry. The employee opened the church door to find a man inside. Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Dave Morey said the unidentified man fled the scene as the employee called police. Morey said it’s unclear if the incident was in any way related to Freed’s killing.
“We have no idea, but we are treating it like it might be, just to be careful,” Morey said, adding that his office has advised all local churches to be especially careful and report any suspicious activity. During the press conference, Mills declined to comment on Freed, the condition in which he was found or anything about a possible motive in the case. ”It’s just too early in the investigation to give that kind of information,” he said.
EPD is seeking the public’s assistance in locating Freed’s vehicle, a gray Nissan Altima Hybrid, license plate 6NDW400. Mills said it’s unclear when the vehicle was last seen or if it was at St. Bernard Church prior to Freed’s death, but the department is warning anyone who may see the vehicle not to approach it and to instead call police. Mills asks that anyone with information regarding the vehicle or the case call EPD at 441-4044. To read the entire story, click here.
Let us all please pray and sacrifice that almighty God brings peace, holiness and much good out of this terrible tragedy.
And please notice the deafening silence and total disinterest that will be exhibited by the “progressive” politicians and their “helpful” news media who would otherwise be so quick and loud to act, if there turns out to be any race cards here to play, and any gun control issues here to exploit.
So do we as a nation, really believe when we pray Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven? Are we sober and watchful when it comes to the great adversary? Or do we cooperate with the “prince” of this world who goes about like the lion stealthily seeking whom he may devour?
The fine and good work of Fr. Freed, God rest his soul, is over and finished on this Earth. But for many of us, our work here has just begun! God willing! The only question is, for whom will we be working?
Rest in peace.
The latest on this story is that they have arrested a man who was held the day before for public intoxication and then released. It could be that this person was intoxicated and could have harmed Fr. Freed. It is very sad to lose a good priest. From everything in this story he was a good man, and yes, prayer for everyone involved, especially for Fr. is in order. Very sad to lose someone like this, very sad.
Touching a priest to hurt him is a Mortal Sin! Eternal rest to Father Freed
May our Lord have mercy on the responsible person(s). My faith makes me believe that Father Eric is in heaven.
It is up to us, the survivors, to bring meaning and hope to this tragedy. There are always reasons “why”, and the suspect arrested has plenty of tragedy in his own life that was a jumping board for this despicable crime he allegedly commited. In other words, this was not a senseless crime…..just look at the suspect. We have to keep faith and know that preventing crime is a day to day activity of doing the right thing, caring, and being safe.
This crime was NOT God’s will; in fact, God, too, weeps at this tragedy that the system he put in place is in the hands of imperfect people (all of use) will have days like this. Let’s recommit to practice our faith even when it is seriously challenged in circumstances like this. Just think of the billions of tragedies that Christians have prevented by the daily practice of our faith in the larger world.
Bob One, “It is up to us, the survivors, to bring meaning and hope to this tragedy.”?????!!!!!!
We are talking about MURDER here! Fr. Erik Freed was MURDERED yesterday! This goes way beyond a “tragedy”. A car accident caused by human error is a tragedy!!!! As far as we know Fr. Erik Freed was willfully MURDERED by another human being!
At least have the decency to remain silent if you cannot bring yourself to decry this evil deed!
Bob One, I’m sorry, I meant to address my remarks to good cause.
By the way, “good cause”. The only One who can bring any meaning out of such evil is God himself. We “survivors” do not have the capacity to do what you suggest. Please have the decency to morn Fr. Erik Freed’s passing, pray for his soul, and allow him to have a proper burial before you attempt to find “meaning”, “hope” and a “reason” for this evil act perpetrated upon him. Even Jesus, who knew all, wept for his friend Lazarus.
When I first read this story, I was so shocked, angered, and saddened that I couldn’t find any words to say at the time. Now, in addition to that, I am outraged by your shallowness.
Awful, just awful. RIP brother!
The Sheriff’s Dept. is going to catch holy heck for (a) arresting this drunken man, and (b) then releasing him rather than leaving him in the drunk tank.
If they had kept him behind bars, he wouldn’t have been roaming around town on New Year’s Eve, looking for trouble.
From what I’ve read in the news just now, he broke into the priest’s house, killed him, and then ran off with his car — but not too far:
“Bullock apparently fled 45 minutes from the parish to a family member’s house in Freed’s car, police told CNN. One of Bullock’s relatives called police.”
Thank God the man’s relatives had the morals to turn him in to the cops.
May the soul of Fr. Eric Freed through the mercy of God rest in peace.
Very sad news. I pray for justice be done.
May this priest rest in peace.
I live near Eureka and this horrible nightmare was discussed at mass on Sunday. We were praying for what Father Freed prayed for quite often and that is HOPE. As for the sick man that killed him, we pray for more help for people like this. May Father Freed rest in peace, that is about all I can say.