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Regional News

Hampden DA: Late Former Priest Killed Altar Boy In 1972

Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni speaks about the case against defrocked priest Richard Lavigne on Monday, May 24, 2021.
Don Treeger
/
The Republican / masslive.com
Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni speaks about the case against defrocked priest Richard Lavigne on Monday, May 24, 2021.

Hampden County's top prosecutor said investigators were preparing to seek an arrest warrant for a defrocked Roman Catholic priest long considered a suspect in the 1972 killing of a western Massachusetts altar boy shortly before his death last week.

Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni told reporters Monday that incriminating admissions Richard Lavigne made in a series of recent interviews with an investigator further implicated the longtime suspect in 13-year-old Danny Croteau’s death.

Croteau's body was found in the Chicopee River on April 15, 1972. No one was ever charged, but Gulluni said recent findings point directly to Lavigne.

"Based on the accumulation of historical evidence, the evidence gained in the last year, and the admissions of Richard Lavigne, I believe we now have those answers," Gulluni said.

Gulluni said his office was prepared to prosecute Lavigne for Croteau’s murder, but he died Friday at the age of 80 before he could be arrested.

Lavigne was defrocked by the Catholic Church in 2005, after serving 10 years probation for molesting young parishioners.

This story contains reporting from the Associated Press and NEPM's Kari Njiiri.

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