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Priest found dead in Eureka, murder suspected

Published On: Jan 01 2014 07:34:54 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 01 2014 08:12:48 PM CST

Photo: 2011 installation of Fr. Freed from the St. Bernard Church website

A Catholic priest was found dead in Eureka, Calif., at the rectory of St. Bernard Church on Wednesday morning.

Father Eric Freed, who was installed in 2011, was identified as the victim by Eureka Mayor Frank Jager.

According to police, Freed led a mass on New Year’s Eve, and was scheduled to do the same at 9:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

After he did not show up as expected, his body was found in the church’s rectory.

Police are calling the case a murder investigation. They say they have not identified any suspects or persons of interest.

They are also not releasing a motive or cause of death.

Crime scene tape surrounded the church for much of the day as police investigated.

Police Chief Andrew Mills said his department would expend the resources necessary to conduct a thorough investigation.

The Eureka Police Department is seeking the public's assistance locating a vehicle associated with the homicide.

The vehicle is described as a dark grey Nissan Altima Hybrid, with California license plate 6NDW400.

The Eureka Police Department is asking anyone with information regarding the vehicle’s whereabouts to not approach it, and instead contact the Eureka Police Department Communications Center at 707-441-4044.