Danny Croteau cold case closed after suspect Richard Lavigne died

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Nearly 50 years after the investigation into the murder of 13-year old Danny Croteau, the case is officially closed.

The investigation began after Danny Croteau was found dead along the banks of the Connecticut River in Chicopee on April 15, 1972. Former Catholic Priest Richard Lavigne who was named as a suspect but never charged, died this past Friday in a hospital facility in Greenfield.

Lavigne became a person of interest because of the inconsistent and unusual statements he had made to investigators in the days after the murder. Earlier that day before he died, District Attorney Anthony Gulluni authorized an arrest warrant for Lavigne in that murder. But because of his recent death there will be no prosecution or trial.

Massachusetts State Police Unresolved Cases Unit conducted a series of interviews with the former priest earlier this year. Those conversations were recorded during eleven hours of interviews over five days. During the investigation, Lavigne refused to specifically admit that he killed Danny Croteau, but he made several statements to indicate that he was the last person to see him alive.

“Through all the interviews, Lavigne refused to affirmatively admit that he killed Danny Croteau. However, he made several statements to indicate that he was the last person to see Danny Croteau alive.”

Video: Interview of Richard Lavigne in Danny Croteau case

MSP Trooper Michael McNally conducted a series of interviews with Lavigne. Through all the interviews, Lavigne refused to affirmatively admit that he killed Danny Croteau.

The following is only small compilation of his incriminating submission. Totaling of about 4 and a half minutes of nearly 11 hours of interviews, the DA suggests the following provides a clear picture, even 49 years later that Danny Croteau died at the hands of Richard Lavigne.

Danny was an altar boy at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Springfield, where Lavigne served as assistant pastor, as well as a family friend. Danny was the youngest of five boys in the Croteau family. One of his brothers expressing emotion and hoping for closure Monday afternoon at the news conference.

“We’re disappointed that he is not being brought to justice but we believe there is a higher power and he will face that higher power not.” Joe Crouteau, Danny’s brother

“Regrettably, due to Lavigne’s death, there will be no prosecution or trial,” Gulluni said. “But due to the credible and significant evidence that has been assembled in the last year that incriminates Richard Lavigne, I am announcing today that the investigation into the murder of Danny Croteau is now officially closed. While formal justice might not have befallen Richard Lavigne here on this earth, we hope to now provide answers and some measure of closure to Danny’s family and to a generation in Western Massachusetts and beyond who mourned and wondered for too long.”

The DA said he believes that if Lavigne was still alive, investigators are confident that they would have enough evidence to charge him with murder.

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