A Massachusetts prosecutor announced Monday that a convicted sex offender who had been dismissed from the clerical state, and who died last week, was responsible for the death of an altar boy nearly 50 years ago.
The suspect, a former priest, Richard Lavigne, died in hospital May 21 at age 80.
On May 24, Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni announced at a press conference that their investigation had concluded that Lavigne had killed Daniel Croteau, 13, who was found beaten and floating in a local river in April 1972.
Lavigne, who was reportedly a family friend of the Croteaus and would often take the Croteau children on outings alone, was pegged early on as a suspect in the Springfield altar boy’s death.
According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Lavigne pled guilty in 1992 to sexually abusing two boys, and was sentenced to ten years probation. Two years later, the Diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts reached a $1.4 million settlement with his abuse victims, and Lavigne was dismissed from the clerical state in 2003.
Daniel’s brother Carl Croteau has said that his brother would return from being with Lavigne on the weekends, and would be sick to his stomach from drinking alcohol, the Gazette reported.
The investigators say they suspect Lavigne killed Daniel because he threatened to reveal that Lavigne was sexually abusing him, too.
At the press conference, Gulluni played audio recordings of April and May 2021 interviews with Lavigne, conducted by Massachusetts State Police.