"The reverend was a victim of a violent crime," Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills said. "We're not sure on the motive but don't believe it was a robbery at this point."
Under California law, people who are considered a danger to themselves or others can be held involuntarily for mental health treatment for up to 72 hours, said Nicholas Pacilio, a spokesman for the state attorney general.
Law enforcement officials must have probable cause to believe someone meets the criteria before taking them to a hospital or mental health facility for an evaluation. A mental health professional then decides if the person warrants a mental health hold.
If someone is held longer than 72 hours, they are entitled to a lawyer and a hearing before a judge.
Freed had taught classes on religion at Humboldt State University since 2007, including "Introduction to Christianity" and a class on Japanese calligraphy. Humboldt State is a small university of 8,000 students near Redwood National Park, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.
Karli Kauffman was one of his students. She drove from San Francisco to Eureka after learning about the killing and visited an impromptu shrine of flowers and candles outside the rectory. Her rosary was pressed to her lips, which moved silently in prayer.
"He was my mentor," said Kauffman, who was inspired by Freed to switch majors to religious studies. "He taught me to have faith in humanity. To have someone kill a man who taught that and truly lived it every day makes me sick to my stomach."
Still, she said Freed would want her to forgive his killer.
Yellow crime scene tape surrounded the rectory and church, with its Gothic windows and towering spire. Evergreen boughs from Christmas still graced the front doors.
Laurie Lynch grew up with Freed as her parish priest in Arcata. After he moved to Eureka, Lynch asked him to perform her marriage ceremony.