Until his last breath, defrocked Roman Catholic priest Richard R. Lavigne — prolific child molester, alleged murderer and catalyst for many lifetimes of ruin — remained convinced he was going to heaven.
With the steady beeping of a heart monitor in the background, this was among the revelations a state trooper drew from Lavigne as the disgraced cleric lay ill in medical facilities in Springfield and Franklin County over the spring.
Detective Michael T. McNally, a product of Catholic schools himself, first visited Lavigne’s bedside in the hope of eliciting a confession to the 1972 killing of altar boy Daniel “Danny” Croteau. After a long series of forensic tests proved fruitless over the past three decades, it was doubtless a Hail Mary tactic.
One of only four “unresolved cases” investigators in Massachusetts, McNally tapped on the door of Lavigne’s hospital room on April 14. By some coincidence, it was the 49th anniversary of Croteau’s death. The boy’s body was found along the bank of the Chicopee River in Chicopee Falls on April 15, 1972, the day after police concluded he was killed.