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Priest found murdered in Catholic church rectory on New Year's Day

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The northern California community of Humboldt County was rocked to its core by the news that something terrible had happened at St. Bernard's Church in Eureka, Calif. on the first day of 2014. As suspicion and rumors spread through social media throughout the day, fears were realized as fact when it was announced at a press conference that authorities were conducting a murder investigation. Mayor Frank Jager confirmed that the victim was Rev. Eric Freed.

Lost Coast Outpost was the first news agency to report that police and rescue personnel were called to the rectory of St. Bernard's at approximately 9 a.m. on Wed., Jan. 1, 2014. Parishioners were gathering for a mass to be held at 9 a.m. and the priest had not been seen. A deacon went to the rectory to see what was keeping him and returned with news that something wasn't right. While those in attendance began to say a rosary for Freed, authorities were contacted.

Catholics and non-Catholics alike have been shaken by what appears to be a senseless crime against someone who was a vital member of the Humboldt community. As an active member in this northern California community, Freed taught in the Religious Studies Department at Humboldt State University and led mass on campus as well as being the director of the Newman Center at HSU.

While not much information has been released to the public, Police Chief Andrew Mills has stated that his department will work diligently to find the perpetrator or perpetrators responsible for this crime and to bring them to justice. Authorities are asking for help in locating Freed's vehicle. It is a gray Nissan Altima Hybrid, license plate 6NDW400. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the car or with information pertaining to the investigation is asked to call the Eureka Police Department at 707-441-4044.

There are rumors that the car has been located in Mendocino County to the south of Humboldt County, but there is no certainty of this information at this time.

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