Catholic Priest Found Slain In California Church Rectory - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Catholic Priest Found Slain In California Church Rectory

Posted: Updated:
From: CNN From: CNN

(CNN) -- A beloved Roman Catholic priest was found dead Wednesday in his church's rectory, spurring police to launch a murder investigation and those he touched to try to make sense of his sudden passing.

Eureka, California, Police Chief Andy Mills said officers -- responding to a call from staff at St. Bernard Church -- first came across the victim around 9 a.m. Wednesday. He did not elaborate on how the death occurred, adding Wednesday night that there were no suspects.

Mayor Frank Jager identified the victim as the Rev. Eric Freed, whom he called a personal friend and a "tremendous person in this community" since his arrival three years ago. The St. Bernard Parish website featured a cross and the words, "Rest in Peace," above Freed's name.

"He was a really, genuinely warm individual," said professor Stephen Cunha, the chairman of Humboldt University's religious studies department where Freed taught for more than 10 years. "... Kind is the word that comes to mind, sensitive."

Noting that students at the state university loved Freed -- who was also deeply involved in that school's Catholic student group, the Newman Center -- Cunha added: "This was not some stuffy clergyman. He was very much someone that you could sit down and speak with... He connected with everybody."

Local and state authorities remained at St. Bernard Church -- one of two in the coastal Northern California city situated 275 miles north of San Francisco where he was the sole pastor -- late Wednesday processing the crime scene and following up on tips, Mills said.

Those efforts include looking for Freed's vehicle, a 2010 Nissan Altima. The police chief said that authorities had no solid leads.

Just a few days ago, the priest sent a note to his parishioners thanking them for their support and prayers and wishing them a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

"I cannot tell you how proud and honored I am to be your pastor,"Freed wrote in a letter posted on the parish website. "Our parish is alive, joyful and full of faith, hope and charity that define us as Catholic Christians."

While he was relatively new to St. Bernard, Freed had already made an impact there and elsewhere around Eureka -- including with the city's Japanese-American community, as Freed lived in Japan for many years -- Jager told reporters.

"This is an absolutely tremendous loss not only for the St. Bernard's Parish, but for our community generally," the mayor said. "For those of us who believe in prayer, this is the time for that."

His ties to Humbodt State went back even longer. A guest lecturer, Freed wrote a book about the first atomic bomb and also taught about the New Testament, connecting with Christians and non-Christians alike.

"He was very well respected, very well liked and had a tremendous working knowledge as well as academic knowledge," Cunha said. "... To think that he passed in this way: It's just layers of grief and shock."

By: Greg Botelho, CNN

  • National NewsMore>>

  • UPDATE: Joan Rivers 'Resting Comfortably' at Mount Sinai in New York

    UPDATE: Joan Rivers 'Resting Comfortably' at Mount Sinai in New York

    Friday, August 29 2014 12:45 AM EDT2014-08-29 04:45:02 GMT
    NEW YORK (AP) - Comedian Joan Rivers is in a New York City hospital, according to police and hospital officials who say she was rushed there from a doctor's office after going into cardiac arrest.Rivers' daughter later issued a statement about her mother's condition.More >>
    NEW YORK (AP) - Comedian Joan Rivers is in a New York City hospital, according to police and hospital officials who say she was rushed there from a doctor's office after going into cardiac arrest.Rivers' daughter later issued a statement about her mother's condition.
    More >>
  • VA: No proof delays in veteran care caused hospital deaths

    VA: No proof delays in veteran care caused hospital deaths

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 9:11 PM EDT2014-08-27 01:11:37 GMT
    KHQ.COM- The Department of Veterans Affairs says there's no proof that delays in care caused any deaths at the VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz.Revelations that as many as 40 veterans died while awaiting care rocked the agency this past spring, bringing to light scheduling problems and allegations of misconduct at other hospitals as well.NBC News obtained a draft report from the VA's Office of Inspector General Tuesday. The draft report says while investigators found substantial delays in care an...More >>
    KHQ.COM- The Department of Veterans Affairs says there's no proof that delays in care caused any deaths at the VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz.Revelations that as many as 40 veterans died while awaiting care rocked the agency this past spring, bringing to light scheduling problems and allegations of misconduct at other hospitals as well.NBC News obtained a draft report from the VA's Office of Inspector General Tuesday. The draft report says while investigators found substantial delays in care an...More >>
  • UPDATE: Sergeant who shot herself at Fort Lee dies

    UPDATE: Sergeant who shot herself at Fort Lee dies

    Monday, August 25 2014 6:58 PM EDT2014-08-25 22:58:27 GMT
    Police officer patrols the entrance of Fort Lee in VirginiaPolice officer patrols the entrance of Fort Lee in Virginia
    FORT LEE, Va. (AP) - A commanding general at a Virginia Army base says an enraged soldier with a gun barricaded herself in an office, then shot herself in the head as officials tried to negotiate with her.More >>
    FORT LEE, Va. (AP) - A commanding general at a Virginia Army base says an enraged soldier with a gun barricaded herself in an office, then shot herself in the head as officials tried to negotiate with her. Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lyons says the soldier went on a rampage, throwing objects. More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KHQ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.