Calif. Priest Found Dead New Year's Day

The body was discovered in the parish rectory and a homicide probe has been opened.
3:00 | 01/02/14

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Transcript for Calif. Priest Found Dead New Year's Day
mysterious death of a california priest, found dead new year's morning after he failed to show up for mass. Police revealing few details right now. And abc's reena ninan has the story. Reporter: This morning, mystery surrounding the murder of a belo catholic priest, found dead inside the rectory of his own church. Pastor eric freed seen here during his installation in 2011. Overnight, the town's mayor telling us, he was a beloved man of god whose murder has rocked the community. He was a real caring person. Was willing to help anybody at all times. Reporter: Freed's body was found wednesday morning after he failed to show up for a 9:00 a.M. New year's mass. Overnight, his parishioners gathered not for a sermon. But for a somber press conference outside the church. Their place of refuge, now surrounded by yellow crime scene tape. I want to assure the residents of eureka, this is not a larger situation where people need to be concerned. But we are spending every resource possible to make sure this investigation is as thorough as possible. Reporter: Freed taught religious studies at hum bolt state university. Police have not revealed details about a possible motive, cause of death or suspect. The community is devastating. These things don't happen here. Reporter: Father freed was apparently killed between tuesday night and wednesday morning's mass. We reached out to st. Bernard's overnight. They told us freed was planning to use his sermon to announce his goals for the new year. To be happy, thankful and aware that faith and understanding is all in god's hands. For "good morning america," reena ninan, abc news, new york.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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