‘Tragedy of the highest order’: Danny Croteau murder haunted law enforcement until its conclusion – BishopAccountability.org

Carl E. Croteau, a Housing Court worker, died six years later, followed by his wife, Bernice “Bunny” Croteau, in 2016. Despite the efforts of teams of investigators over the years, they passed away before their son’s killer was truly revealed. The investigation was stunning in its complexity, though there was really only ever one suspect: defrocked Catholic priest and convicted child molester Richard R. Lavigne. When Velis made the decision to unseal reams of investigative documents related to the case — recently closed after Lavigne offered what fell just short of a deathbed confession — the retired jurist said he actually said a silent “amen” to himself. “I agonized, but not for long. I said something is wrong here and I owe it to my oath to address it. And I did, and I said hopefully something will break because of this,” the judge said. “This was a tragedy of the highest order.” But nothing broke. Not just then. Seventeen years later, Lavigne, the prime suspect since Croteau’s body was found floating in the Chicopee River, disclosed to a state trooper that he brought Croteau to the water’s edge and struck him with “an object.” Lavigne, 80, offered the information for the first time from a hospital bed in Greenfield, adding that he left and returned later to see Croteau facedown in the water but told no one and made no attempt to rescue the 13-year-old boy he was suspected of sexually abusing. Croteau had been bludgeoned in the head before drowning, a medical examiner found. Lavigne also told the trooper he “gave him a good shove.”

‘Tragedy of the highest order’: Danny Croteau murder haunted law enforcement until its conclusion – BishopAccountability.org

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