EUREKA, Calif. (AP) — Police arrested a suspect Thursday in the killing of a respected priest and educator who was found dead on New Year's Day in a church rectory in Northern California.
Gary Lee Bullock, 43, of Redway, was taken into custody by Humboldt County deputies in the killing of the Rev. Eric Freed, according to a statement by Eureka police.
Police said Bullock had been in and out of police custody in the hours before Freed died and had been sent to a hospital for an exam because of his erratic behavior.
Officials were still seeking a motive in the killing. Freed's body was found at St. Bernard Church after he failed to show up for morning Mass.
Bullock was initially arrested Tuesday for public intoxication in Garberville and taken 67 miles north to jail in Eureka.
His erratic behavior led police to send him to a hospital for an evaluation. He became agitated and deputies had to restrain him. He was booked into jail for about eight hours then released shortly after midnight.
At 2 a.m. Wednesday, Eureka police responded to a call about a suspicious person a couple blocks from the jail and about 5 yards from the site where Freed was found. Police said Bullock wasn't intoxicated then and didn't qualify for an emergency psychological hold.
Officers referred him to an emergency shelter for the night.
Later, a security guard heard noise near the church and went to investigate. He saw a man matching Bullock's description and after a short conversation told him to leave the property, police said.
It is not clear exactly when or how Freed was killed. His body showed signs of blunt force trauma. Investigators also found indications of forced entry and a struggle.
An arrest warrant was issued Thursday for Bullock, who was found again in the Garberville area. Freed's car also was discovered.