Witnesses called to testify, describing crime scene of Father Eric Freed's death
***WARNING: Details of the crime scene described below are graphic, and may be disturbing to some readers.***
EUREKA- A preliminary hearing was held Thursday morning for the man accused of murdering a Eureka priest inside of his home New Year’s Day. Gary Bullock, 44 of Redway allegedly made forced entry through a side window into Freed’s home and killed him with a wooden stake and a rusty metal pipe. Bullock is being charged with three felony counts, one for murder, vehicle theft, and attempted arson. He is also facing two special allegation charges of torture and residential burglary.
In court Thursday, two witnesses from the Eureka Police Department took the stand. The first to testify was Officer Alan Aubuchon, who said he was dispatched to 615 H Street around 9 a.m. Jan. 1 to a report of an unknown problem. Aubuchon said the minute he walked through the door inside of the home there was a strong odor of natural gas, to the point where he became concerned of his breathing. As he made his way upstairs Aubuchon said he saw Dr. Zibilich standing in the doorway to Freed's bedroom.
During cross-examination by Bullock’s defense attorney, Kaleb Cockrum from Humboldt County’s Alternate Conflict Counsel office, Aubuchon explained in further detail about the encounter he made with Dr. Zibilich. He testified that as he made his way upstairs he saw Dr. Zibilich standing at the door, on the verge of crying and said, “He’s dead,” and raised his hands with what appeared to be blood on them.
As the officer made his way back downstairs, he said an officer with him noticed that the gas stove was still on and that a cigar was smoldering near the burners.
The next witness called to testify was Eureka Police Detective Todd Wilcox. He described Freed’s room in ”disarray.” Wilcox said Freed's body was wrapped in bed sheets that were wet and smelled like alcohol. He said empty bottles of alcohol were placed around the body, speculating that it looked like someone had poured the alcohol out and tried setting the bedding on fire.
Wilcox said Freed’s head was bloody, and his nose was “cut up and down,” with marks on his chin that resembled a rug burn. A piece of wood was stuck into Freed’s left knee and there were scratches, said Wilcox.
Wilcox also said a length of wood, similar to redwood slats were found underneath Freed’s body. Also found under his body was an 18-inch rusty metal pipe with pages of a magazine wrapped around it, showing a picture of a nun, said Wilcox. Two circular injuries appearing to be the same diameter of the pipe was noticed on Freed's chest according to Wilcox.
Another item found in Freed’s bedroom was a glass conical, which was sitting on top of a wooden table next to the bed. Wilcox speculated that it looked like a glass vase without a base, and said it had a jagged edge with what appeared to be red stains around it.
Fingerprints were taken from the scene and put into processing according to Wilcox. Friday morning Bullock will be back in court for day two of his preliminary hearing.