CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Investigators began zeroing in on Father Richard Lavigne from the beginning, in fact he remained a “person of interest” in the case all these years.
Father Richard Lavigne was a close family friend of the Croteau family. He was their parish priest in Springfield and remained close with them after being reassigned to another church. Lavigne would take Danny and his brothers on outings not affiliated with the church and the boys would often have sleepovers at Lavigne’s parent’s house in Chicopee.
“We’re disappointed that he is not being brought to justice but we believe there is a higher power and he ill face that higher power not.” Joe Croteau, Danny’s brother
Danny’s body was discovered along the Chicopee River in Chicopee. Authorities said he was still wearing the same clothes he was wearing the day before from school.
After Danny’s murder, Lavigne became a “person of interest” in the early stages of the investigation because of the inconsistent and unusual statements he had made to investigators. Investigators also determined that Lavigne had initially lied about the last time he had seen Danny.
Separately, Lavigne served 10 years probation after pleading guilty to two counts of molesting male parishioners. He was defrocked by the Catholic church in 2005.
Fast forward to late April and the beginning of this month, the Hampden County DA directed investigators to interview Lavigne.
During these new interviews, Lavigne refused to specifically admit that he killed Danny, but he made several statements to indicate that he was the last person to see him alive.
“I’m awfully glad that my parents will never hear this.” Joe Croteau, Danny’s brother
This past Friday, Lavigne died in a hospital facility in Greenfield on the same day the DA said was seeking an arrest warrant for Lavigne. The DA said investigators are confident that if Lavigne was still alive they’d have enough evidence to charge him with murder.