California Priest was Beaten to Death with Wooden Stake, Pipe

A coroner's report sheds some light on how a beloved priest in northern California was killed

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A beloved priest in Northern California killed on New Year’s Day was beaten to death with a wooden stake and a metal gutter pipe, according to autopsy results.

Rev. Eric Freed, a Catholic priest in Eureaka, was killed in the early hours of New Year’s Day in the rectory of St. Bernard Catholic Church. Police arrested Gary Lee Bullock, a 44-year-old who was released from jail hours before Freed was killed in the church. Bullock has been charged with murder, and has pleaded not guilty.

According to Freed’s autopsy released Monday, he was beaten to death with a wooden stake and a metal gutter pipe. Investigators have yet to released more details, citing the ongoing investigation. Police Chief Andrew Mills said investigators have not discovered a clear motive, but that “there was significant evidence at the scene to suggest [Bullock] tried to set the house on fire,” the Associated Press reports.

On Monday, more than 1,000 people attended a funeral mass for Freed. Priests from all over California attended, and according to one parishioner, the church was overflowing with mourners.