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Man attempted to set rectory, body of priest on fire according to affidavit
EUREKA- It has been one week since the discovery of St. Bernard priest Eric Freed was found dead inside of his home New Years Day. According to the affidavit obtained from the Associated Press, the man charged in the murder of Rev. Freed reportedly tried to blow up the rectory by turning on the gas from a stove and leaving behind a lit cigar. The documents also state Freed’s body was wrapped in bedclothes dampened by liquor in another failed attempt to start a fire.
Deputies said the series of events that lead up to the murder first started on West Coast Road in Redway, about 45 minutes south of where the crime took place.
"Approximately 1:30 in the afternoon on New Years Eve, deputies were dispatched to meet with someone acting strangely and was having some issues," said Humboldt County Sheriff Michael Downey.
Deputies said it was Gary Bullock, 44, who admitted to being under the influence of methamphetamine and heroin when he was approached.
Downey said, "At that point based upon his condition he was arrested for 647-F, for being under the influence." Bullock was then transported to the Humboldt County Jail, north of Redway. Around 3 p.m. he arrived and was seen by a nurse said Downey,
"Whenever someone is brought into the jail they have to be medically cleared by a nurse in our facility before they can be accepted into the facility itself."
Once at the jail, Bullock was rejected for his erratic behavior and had a high heart rate, and was immediately taken to St. Joseph Hospital for a medical evaluation where he was cleared and then sent back to jail. Around 4:30 p.m. Bullock was returned back to jail and placed into a sobering cell where he remained in custody for the next nine hours until he was released at 12:45 a.m.
"Per our policy, when someone is charged with 647-F someone is typically held up to four hours” said Downey. “He was actually in our custody for 11 hours from the time he was arrested until the time he was released."
Downey said Bullock was released based on a certain set of criteria, "The threshold that we have to meet for release is that he is able to care for himself and not a danger to others, based upon evaluations, he met that criteria."
12:45 a.m. New Years Day Bullock was released from jail. It was around 2 a.m. when Eureka Police officers said they were called to St. Bernard church for a suspicious person,
Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills said, "Officers were called to that location and contacted Mr. Bullock and found out that he was not drunk and not incapable of taking care of others, which is the standard police would hold for a mental health commitment.”
Chief mills said Bullock was then directed to an emergency shelter for the night, but around 3 a.m. was found wandering near the church and spotted by a security guard.
"He was driving by and saw the door to the restroom open and then he saw this guy went and contacted him and said you should not be on this property," said Chief Mills.
It was sometime after the last encounter with the security guard when police believe Bullock killed Freed. He was arrested the following day on Jan. 2 after his family turned him in. Bullock was on summary non-supervised probation for two previous drug related cases.
On Jan. 6 he plead not guilty at his arraignment to three felony counts, one for murder, vehicle theft, and attempted arson with two special allegation charges of burglary to a residence and intention to kill with torture. His preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 16.