About 50 years after a Massachusetts teenager was killed, officials announced Monday that a Catholic priest very close to the family was behind the crime.
On Saturday, officials were getting an arrest warrant for Richard R. Lavigne, but he died that morning in the hospital, Anthony Gulluni, the Hampden District Attorney, said in a statement on Sunday. Richard had some physical ailments, Gulluni said in an interview and had not been well for a long period of time.
Daniel Croteau was 13-year-old when found dead in the Connecticut River in Chicopee, Massachusetts, on April 16, 1972, wearing the clothes he’d worn to Catholic school a day earlier, Gulluni said.
Daniel and his five brothers worked as altar boys for Lavigne at Saint Catherine of Sienna, he added. The priest also took Croteau and other boys on outings without their parents several times, and the priest had invited Daniel to stay at his parents’ house in Chicopee a few times as well, he said.
Richard was removed by the Catholic Church in 2005 because it had received multiple sexual complaints against him, according to the spokesman for the Diocese of Springfield, Mark Dupont.
“Daniel’s parents, Bernice and Carl, told reporters that they just need answers. Based on the historical evidence, the admissions of Richard Lavigne, and the evidence gained in the last year, I believe we now have those answers,” Gulluni said in an interview.
In June of 2020, Gulluni and his companions turned fresh attention to the murder of Croteau, working with Unresolved Cases units and the Massachusetts State Police Detective.
Detectives combed through hundreds of documents, decades of evidence, and focused on a letter that Lavigne told police that he’d received in 2005 from the boy’s murderer admitting his crime, according to Gulluni.