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Priest killed: Police release suspect hours before crime

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A priest killed in Eureka, Calif. New Year's Eve in the rectory of the church was allegedly done by a man released from jail just hours earlier. CS Monitor reports Jan. 4 that Reverend Eric Freed of St. Bernard’s Catholic Paris was found dead in the rectory after someone went to check on why he was late for mass.

No one is in custody at this time for the crime. Eureka Police have issued a warrant for Gary Lee Bullock in connection with the murder.

The warrant for the man police believed the priest was killed by outlines the reasons why they want him. Bullock was once arrested and put on psychiatric hold over erratic behavior due to intoxication. After being held for a period of time, he was released Jan. 1. A few hours later he was spotted acting suspiciously, but he reportedly was not intoxicated or qualified for emergency psychiatric hold. Police did refer Bullock to a shelter, however. It was later in the evening that a security guard heard a noise near the church and noticed a man matching Bullock's description. He told him to leave the property after they talked momentarily.

At about 9 a.m. police were dispatched to the church where the priest was killed. Freed was badly injured and died from what appeared to be blunt force trauma. An autopsy is scheduled Saturday to determine the exact cause of death.

Police learned that forced entry was made by the murderer and a violent struggle ensued. The priest's car was also missing during the crime investigation.

The priest killed in this tragedy was the victim of something that draws attention to how flawed the system is when it comes to criminals. While there may have been no reason to law enforcement to keep the suspect behind bars, it also put society in danger -- as Reverend Freed found out.

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