Coroner releases priest's cause of death; services for Rev. Eric Freed held Monday

Lorna Rodriguez


The Humboldt County Coroner's Office announced Saturday that the Rev. Eric Freed died of blunt force trauma.

The popular St. Bernard Catholic Church priest was killed during a violent struggle in the church rectory on New Year's Day. Suspect Gary Lee Bullock, 43, of Redway, was arrested on Thursday near his family's home in Briceland, in connection with Freed's death.

Freed was described as a passionate man who lived the values he spoke about in his classroom and at the pulpit by friends, colleagues, parishioners and his students at Humboldt State University, where he was a lecturer in the Religious Studies department.

"He was a highly skilled, master teacher that was respected by everybody," HSU religious studies professor William Hebrechtsmeier previously told the Times-Standard. "And he was deeply loved as a priest. So many people were married by him, had their children baptized by him and found solace in his ministry at the Church. It's a horrible loss to the students and the parish."

Freed also taught and served the Catholic Church in Japan for 20 years. He became fluent in Japanese, studied calligraphy and wrote the story of Hiroshima bombing survivor Hiroko Takanashi as an introduction to her book of haiku poems, "The Experience of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima in Poem."

Vigil services were held at St. Bernard Church in Eureka, with a main vigil service with the bishop in attendance, followed by an all-night prayer vigil. __A funeral mass was held Monday at Sacred Heart Church in Eureka, followed by interment at St. Bernard's Cemetery and a reception at St. Bernard Church.