Former North Coast Priest responds to Father Freed's death

REDDING, Calif. - A retired priest who worked with Father Freed shared stories about his experience with him on the North Coast.

Father Eric Freed was found dead Wednesday morning in the rectory of Saint Bernard Church in Eureka.

His former co-worker says Father Freed was a New Testament scholar and taught classes at Humboldt State in Arcata.

His love of the Lord and other cultures brought him to Japan for twenty years, where he became fluent in Japanese.

Freed also became fluent in Italian after traveling to Italy for a seminary.

According to his friend, Freed would put his skills to good use, going to San Francisco one weekend a month to give mass in Japanese.

That's when the former priest would step in, and do mass in Eureka.

He said Freed was "very well liked, and friendly to everyone."

He said the dangerous location likely led to the death of his friend.

"St. Bernard's Church is located in downtown Eureka, an area frequented by the homeless and drug addicted. The previous pastor would let them sleep on or under the porch of the rectory, and I'm afraid [Father Freed] may have been doing the same."

43-year-old Gary Lee Bullock was arrested for Father Freed's murder by Humboldt County Deputies in the Briceland area of southern Humboldt County about 12:45 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

Investigators think Bullock forced his way into the church rectory yesterday and got in a violent struggle with the beloved father.

Freed's body was discovered after he didn't show up for 9 a.m. mass.

The retired priest, who chooses to remain anonymous, now lives in Shasta County.

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