Coroner: Priest beaten to death with stake, pipe

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 7, 2014 at 2:42 am •  Published: January 7, 2014
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GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A beloved priest who was killed in the Northern California city of Eureka was beaten to death with a wooden stake and a metal gutter pipe, his autopsy shows.

Humboldt County Coroner Dave Parris said Monday that investigators don't want to release more details of how the Rev. Eric Freed was beaten, pending further investigation.

But at his arraignment, Gary Lee Bullock, 44, of Humboldt County, was charged with murder with a special allegation of torture. He is also charged with burglary, arson and auto theft.

Bullock pleaded not guilty and bail was set at $1.2 million, according to court records.

"I don't think we have a clear motive we are willing to speak about at this point," said Police Chief Andrew Mills. "There was significant evidence at the scene to suggest he tried to set the house on fire."

Meanwhile, a funeral Mass was held Monday for Freed at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Eureka. Parishioner Lynn Enemark said more than 1,000 people filled the church to overflowing. Bishop Robert F. Vasa officiated, and priests from around California attended.

Authorities have said Bullock was released from jail on a disorderly conduct charge several hours before Freed was killed in the rectory at St. Bernard Catholic Church. The jail is near the church.

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