Mar 3, 2016

First photos of a blood soaked t-shirt removed from Fr. Eric's body, broken pieces of a cell phone, a damaged door that had been forced and shards of glass near the broken window usedd to enter the rectory

Former EPD Detective Todd Wilcox, who now works as reserve staff for HCSO testified yesterday morning. Starting at #21 and ending at #120, photos and physical items recovered from the crime scene at St. Bernard's rectory and Church property were identified and admitted into evidence by the People in the Gary Lee Bullock case in the morning court session.

Mr. Wilcox was on the stand from 8:35 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. with one 15 minute morning break.

Starting with photos of the broken window to photos leading to the rooms upstairs in the rectory where Fr. Eric Freed's body was found, broken glass shards, paint chips, pipe rust chips, metal pipes, empty alcohol bottles, and what seem to be blood stains and smears on carpet, in the bathroom as
well in various rooms upstairs to the actual a blood soaked shirt removed from Fr. Eric's body was admitted into evidence drawing the timeline and path of the person who allegedly killed and tortured Fr. Eric Freed. Deputy District Attorney Andrew Isaac questioned Mr. Wilcox. Mr. Kaleb Cockrum also questioned and looked at some physical items by going up to the witness stand.




This is how Fr. Eric looked when I said goodnight to him on New Year's Eve after helping put altar vessels away in the sacristy and assist with closing the church. As I walked to set up for mass, the next morning, I have written about walking on the pathway between the church and the rectory, seeing what I did. Signs that made my heart sink when Fr. Eric did not show up for New Year's Mass.
There was no sign outside that someone had been there except for the chips and strange symbol outside the unlocked bathrooms.

 As I stood with other Eucharistic Ministers at the back of the church, I said to them, "This is not like Fr. Eric, he is always here at least 10 minutes before mass." I should know, for 10 years I was at that church daily, assisiting and attending. For the past 5 years, setting up daily, locking the church, assisting in various ministries. All which involved seeing Fr. Eric daily. I called St. Bernard's home. Now, I have not been to church for 5 months.

I have only broken down and cried once, briefly, since we lost Fr. Eric. Two days after Fr. Eric died at Friday mass. It was my birthday. I set up, Bishop Vasa was saying mass. A close friend I had not seen in years, who was also my church sponsor, walked in and hugged me. I lost it. I was  still expecting Fr. Eric to walk in to say mass. Yesterday, as I was in court, I was stoic, as a dear friend described me after Fr. Eric's death, but when I came home, my heart was heavy, I could not cry.

I have been in the rectory downstairs and watching photos of places where usually I was there for meetings, sharing chicken soup that Fr. Eric had cooked and offered to the RCIA team and members, places where I had walked with Fr. Eric to get items for the sacristy; to see this space that was a safe haven for me violated by a man who brutally murdered someone I cared for and respected is a feeling I cannot put into words.

I had not been to the upstairs of the rectory until last year when we cleaned out the upstairs to prepare it for the priests living there now. The carpet had not been replaced and I saw the room where it had been cut out and the outline of Fr. Eric's body. As if Fr. Eric was watching over us, as I was putting some items, I found a bookmark with his 2014 strenna and a rosary and asked our current pastor, Fr. Tom if I could have these instead of throwing them away. It is all I have of Fr. Eric besides my memories. The rosary was of significance to me because it was the first ministry I started under Fr. Eric which led to many others.

There was no one in the audience except me, only the Judge, the DA Investigators, bailiffs, the attorneys and court staff and Bullock.

Deputy District Attorney Andrew Isaac showed Mr. Wilcox a diagram of St. Bernards Church property which included the church and the rectory. Then he showed photos and later exhibits.

Photos:

#21 Photo of the broken window that Bullock broke into, he is on church surveillance video breaking and climbing through the window. "The window was in that condition when I first saw it with a filter propped up against the window," said Mr. Wilcox.

To someone like me walking up that pathway that morning, from outside, the view one would have had is of the filter, which was misleading, looked like maintenance might have placed it there to fix the window. No glass was present to indicate otherwise.

#22 Exterior view of the rectory, the other side, not the side where the broken window was located. Photo of a heavy metal pipe, Wilcox said it looked like a drain pipe. "Inside the building, we found a piece of the pipe in the rectory. It was not in the room where Fr. Freed was found," said Mr. Wilcox. "It seemed out of place in the interior room." That room has been referred to as the "storage room."

#23 View of the same window from inside, window sill had what "appeared to be broken glass," said Mr. Wilcox. "No glass outside so it appeared that the window was broken into from outside with impact." There is video of Bullock breaking into the window and climbing in to the rectory.

#24 Looking from the interior hallway into the mechanical room where the broken window is located. I can tell you that this is the window closest to the porch and back door of the rectory. From outside it is the window located closest to the handicap ramp near the church.

#25--photo of broken window from another angle showing filter blocking part of the window

#26--closer look at the window. These photos were taken on January 1, 2014.

Mr. Wilcox said he was called at home in the morning around 6:30/7, even before he arrived, crime scene tape had been put up. A log was being maintained by an officer on the scene of everyone who entered and left and this included Detective Wilcox.

#27 Main interior hallway downstairs of the rectory leading to foot of stairwell and a door which leads into a foyer that can be accessed through the front entrance.

#28-Shows steps of the stairwell leading up from the foot of the stairwell in previous photo and there were yellow evidence markers on the steps

#29--a white piece/chip was collected, said Mr. Wilcox because "it may be of some significance since the pipe found outside had a white painted exterior"

#30--debris on carpet consistent with debris found at several places in the rectory and similar rusty pieces fell out of the pipe. Mr. Wilcox said the material was similar to what was found outside the bathrooms located on the church property. These are located near the parking lot.

#31 --piece of cellophane material, "cigar wrapper", other pieces of cellophane on the stairs and there were cigars found in a room upstairs in a box next to Fr. Eric's body.

#32--more cellophane material on a landing and then stairs went further

#33--referred back to exihibit #7--closer look and you can see portion of a cell-phone

#34--A diagram of the room where Fr. Eric's body was found and the location of major items in the room including a wheeled table, a coffee table, a fridge, two airmchairs/recliners and a flat screen TV.

#35 the "bedroom" with a bed, bathroom, closet and this room led into the room where Fr. Eric's body was found. The bed had been completely stripped of all bedding.

#36-- bathroom

There were three rooms referred to as Fr. Eric's suite by DDA Isaac and Mr. Wilcox. The third room was referred to as a "storage room."

At this point Mr. Cockrum asked the bailiff for a pencil for Bullock, said something to Bullock who shook his head, "no."

#37-a bookshelf in upstairs hallway at the end of the hall and another room with a Japanese print covering the entrance, pieces of wood and paint chips

#38--closer view of those paint chips

#39--piece of wood leaning against a wall with a nail in it. Mr. Wilcox said that he found other similar pieces in  a garden area next to the bathrooms outside

#40---referred to as the "victim room", more pieces of wood, one of three empty Glenlivet bottles that were recovered from the crime scene. A calendar on top of accumulation of blankets wrapped around Fr. Eric that had "been lit" said Mr. Wilcox. "The bedding was wet, odor consistent with alcohol."

#41-Blue armchair facing the TV in victim room, bedwrappings

#42--Showing a photo of the victim room, DDA Isaac asked Mr. Wilcox a question, and Mr. Wilcox responded with, "no signs of a struggle."

#43--Gift box with three Glenlivet bottles

#44--Victim room with TV, "office area" with printer/computer

#45-brown armchair and on the "seating area", there was a pillow with a power cord laying over it, which Mr. Wilcox said was "kind of odd."

#46--door with entry to victim room, near the door knob the damage had "appearance that the door was broken into/forced into"

#47--closer look at the damage on that door

#48--overall picture of the door with location marked of red spots, seven blood spots were marked with an evidence marker.

#49-location of additional red stains on base board of the wall near door

#50-another perspective of the door

#51--baseboard with red stains

#52=photo with sticky notes next to red stains and spots

#53--red spot on white painted surface of door frame

#54--closer look

#55--photo of victim room taken from vantage point of outside from the hallway looking in

#56-Photo of Fr. Eric with a black crucifix around his neck and the cross laying on his chest, white chips on his chest with contusions and bruises, face bloodied and gashed, lower body covered by blankets

#57--Fr. Eric's bloodied and bruised hands, lower body covered and wrapped in blankets, piece of wood near his armpit and head

#58--calendar and a Glenlivet bottle stacked up towards Fr. Eric's feet which are covered under the blankets.

#59--two more empty Glenlivet bottles, they found three empty Glenlivet bottles

#60--broken "Pilsner" glass, "at the tapered closed end, something missing, " said Mr. wilcox. "That end was jagged and sharp", red smears around the exterior of the glass

#61--next to Fr. Eric's body, glasses on the floor, handle of the recliner soaked partly with red

#62--Fr. Eric's body body with calendar and two empty Glenlivet bottles

#63--body exposed with flecks of rust, exposed abdomen, part of underwear and leg

#64--Glenlivet bottle, corkscrew, broken "Pilsner" glass, cigar box

#65--photo of Fr. Eric, broken table, top had been removed, towards upper half of room, you can see "no signs of struggle"

#66--red stains on the table, table top had been removed,

#67--chunk of Fr. Eric's shirt that had been torn off

#68--tape dispenser with red smears

We took our mid morning break, when we returned the paper in front of Bullock had nothing on it. He sat through all this evidence showing no emotion.

#69--room directly adjacent to the victim's room

#70--a wristwatch with red stains on the floor

#71--wristwatch from another angle

#72--long cast iron pipe on top of boxes, gouges in surface of the wall, same gouges on the chest of Fr. Eric's body

#73--close up of gauges on the wall

#74--"under pad of cell phone", part from same cell phone as #75

#75--another portion of the cell phone

#76--LG cell phone battery

#77--close up of wrist watch which had been turned over to the front to photograph, blood covered the part where the clock is located

#78--bedroom, mirror on the closet, evidence markers on the mirror

#79--bathroom, white smear with red

#80--bathroom , red stains in shower stall and in sink and on bar of soap

#81--bottom of shower stall, red stains

#82--bathroom sink, red stains; bars of irish spring with red marks; red stains by wet wipes

#83 and #84--photos of shower floor

#85--shower door, red stains

#86--red discoloration where bottle of shampoo/body wash was in the shower

#87--another angle of the bathroom sink and bars of Irish Spring soap

#88--close-up of soap and wet wipes

#89--close up of Fr. Eric's knee cap taken while unwrapping layer after layer wrapped around Fr. Eric's body; piece of wood embedded into skin. This was removed before the coroner bagged the body so evidence wouldn't fall off, Photograph taken before removing evidence.

#90--Same close-up of piece of wood in left knee, blood with wood chips embedded; other knee photographed

#92--close up of knee cap

#94--picture of door with evidence marker next to remote opener opening garage

#95--partially burned wooden match in kitchen sink

#96--kitchen photo, evidence marker next to cigar. Mr. Wilcox said that originally the cigar was in the burner on the store but had been removed by first responders so there would not be an explosion. Evidence marker placed on stove burner

#97--pack of matches on kitchen counter that were consistent with match in the kitchen sink

#98--close up of where the match was


Physical exhibits:

# 99--a long piece of pipe wrapped and secured

#99 A--the long piece of pipe found in the "storage room" where there were gouges in the wall

#100--t shirt scrap torn off and found near Fr. Eric's body

#101--Fr. Eric's t-shirt removed from Fr. Eric's body covered and soaked in blood

#101A--t shirt wrapped up in brown paper bag and then placed in a plastic bag

#102--envelope containing the cigar removed by first responder from the burner

#102 A--placed in a plastic bag

#103 and #103 A--envelope with wristwatch, placed in a plastic bag

#104 and 104 A--LG envelope containing cell phone battery, placed in a palstic bag

#105 and #105 A--control panel from cell phone, placed in a plastic bag

#106 and #106 A--cell phone battery cover collected from storage room, placed in a plastic bag

#107, # 108 and #109 --each was an empty Glenlivet bottle

#110 and #110 A--calendar collected from top of Fr. Eric's wrapped body

#111 and #111A--piece of clear cellophane found on stairwell, placed in a plastic bag

#112=smaller piece of cellophane

#113 very small piece of cellophane, "appeared to be sealed with heat," said Mr. wilcox.

#114--piece of wood embedded in Fr. Eric's body

#115--piece of wood near Fr. Eric's head and armchair

#116--larger wooden stake, thicker than others wrapped around the middle with fabric used for ID, found undernearth Fr. Eric

#117--tape dispenser still with red stains, some of blood had been swabbed for processing so less stains than in photo

#118 and #118 A--piece of drain pipe, Knights of Columbus magazine, bagged together, both items found under Fr. Eric's body

#119 and #119 A--broken cigar box found under table, outside was dusted for fingerprints; four Cohiba cigars and 11 belmondo cigars; a blue-green sponge and a glass butter dish (the sponge and butter dish were not moved into evidence today)

#120--broken Pilsner glass








8 comments:

  1. I know how difficult all of this is for you John... hugs and prayers for you!

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  2. Thank you. You are one of the few who does understand because you have survived what I am going through now.

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  3. Sorry for Your loss John..I never knew Fr.Eric but as I continue to read your posts I realize how dear Fr.Eric was to you..Condolences

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  4. I know this is difficult- thank you for reporting on this, it feels important to me to know exactly what is going on & presented in court. It must be horrible to hear & see & it is hard to read but I feel I must somehow witness what he went through.

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    1. Willa, we did get through this and we will. You can imagine how I felt seeing the kitchen and the hallway leading outside to the rooms where we met for RCIA.

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  5. Thank you for covering this John. It means a lot I'm sure to many people to know what is happening, now that the trial is finally happening. I can't imagine how painful this is for you in particular. Please know you're in my thoughts and in my prayers. Take good care of yourself, we all need to.

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  6. Thanks Katrina. It is very comforting to hear from you. I have been praying for all involved, especially Fr. Eric's family and our St. Bernard's family.

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