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Priest killed: Murder suspect was released from jail just before the murder

Gary Bullock, murder suspect
Eureka Police photo

A priest was killed on New Year's Day in California. Gary Bullock, 43, a man who was set free from jail just hours before Rev. Eric Freed was murdered, is now the sole suspect in the murder case, according to an ABC News report on Friday. The reverend’s body was found in his church’s rectory on Jan. 1.

A security guard reported to police that he spotted a person on the church’s property, and police came and found Bullock on the street near the church’s rectory. After the policeman questioned the man, checked his paperwork from the jail, gave him a field sobriety test, and then pointed him in the direction of a mission nearby, the security guard saw Bullock again. This time, he was holding a wooden stake.

Eureka, California’s Police Chief Andrew Mills and Humboldt County Sheriff Steve Knight are defending the actions by the officer who allowed Bullock to continue on. They assert that there was no serious criminal behavior for which they could hold the man in custody. Additionally, there was no apparent psychiatric problem with him either. Therefore, they say he had to be allowed to move on.

Though Bullock had no violent crimes on his record, he was on probation for misdemeanor convictions that accompany cocaine possession in California. Before the discovery of the murder, Bullock was arrested for disorderly conduct on New Year’s Eve in Redway where he lives. In that incident, a mobile home park resident saw Bullock acting bizarrely as he hid in bushes.

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