A beloved Catholic priest at St. Bernard Church in Eureka, Calif. was found dead Wednesday morning in his church’s rectory after failing to show up for mass, and police are opening up a murder investigation, The Eureuka Times-Standard reports.
Police sealed off entrances to the church grounds after a deacon found the body of Rev. Eric Freed.
“It’s a violent crime and obviously, with this kind of response, we’re taking it very seriously,” Chief Andrew Mills told the Times-Standard after arriving on scene.
Mills also told AP the killing occurred sometime after evening services ended on Tuesday.
CNN has more:
Local and state authorities remained at St. Bernard Church — one of two in the coastal Northern California city situated 275 miles north of San Francisco where he was the sole pastor — late Wednesday processing the crime scene and following up on tips, Mills said.
Those efforts include looking for Freed’s vehicle, a 2010 Nissan Altima. The police chief said that authorities had no solid leads.
Calling Freed a personal friend, Mayor Frank Jager told CNN he was a “tremendous person in the community.”
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