Chicopee detectives were soon on the scene, and then State Police investigators. They all looked nervously at the sky. An inch of rain had fallen the during night, and more was forecast for that day. The police had to work meticulously, but quickly, because another April shower could wash away evidence. They examined the riverbank. The victim apparently fought for his life: there were signs of a struggle eighty-five feet from the shore, where a section of blood-splashed sand connected to drag marks that led all the way to a bloody pool at the river’s edge. At the bank, a second, more violent attack took place: blood stains were found spattered on soil fifteen feet away. Chicopee Police Captain Edward Rojowski was no stranger to murder cases, including a brutal double-homicide in a bank robbery the year before, but this murder was especially gruesome. The boy’s skull had been bashed in. The left pocket was torn from his tan suede jacket. In another pocket, police found an exam on yellow lined paper entitled “Daniel Croteau, Grade 7, Our Lady of Sacred Heart School.”
A rock with blood and hair on it was found several yards from the body. Police also discovered a tire track nearby. Back at the station, Rojowski checked the teletype machine for missing persons in the area and found that 13-year-old Danny Croteau was reported missing by his parents, from the Sixteen Acres neighborhood in Springfield, at 2:11 a.m. With a probable identification of the body, a possible murder weapon, and a partial tread mark, officers thought that their investigation would soon be picking up steam.