“I wanted to put up signs all around his block warning everybody,” she said. But she didn’t. The Croteaus have their moments, but they ultimately maintain their composure. They are not angry people, despite everything. “We just want to make sure he isn’t able to do it again,” said Bunny.
“I want to prove to you that I didn’t murder Danny Croteau,” Lavigne told her in the restaurant.
“Father, why would I think that?” she replied.
Lavigne then guided her toward a man in civilian clothes who flashed a badge and told Tessier that the priest didn’t kill Danny Croteau.
“See,” said Lavigne to Tessier. “I told you I didn’t do it.”
“I kept saying, ‘I never thought you did do it.’ But as time went on, I kept thinking, ‘Doth protest too much,” she said in the Globe interview.
The scene, if remembered accurately, leads to several important questions:
Who is this mystery man and what was his motivation? Who in his right mind would go way out on a limb to impersonate an officer and assert Lavigne’s innocence, unless the “fake cop” were somehow involved in the murder? One could postulate that Lavigne knew something about his seamy past and put him up to the encounter—or that this mysterious figure was fearful a Lavigne indictment would uncover a wider sex scandal that would expose himself and others.
The answer: a deeply desperate man.
To say that Croteau “clashed” with Ryan that day would be putting it mildly. “I went wild,” he said. “One of his assistants warned me, ‘Cool it. You can’t talk to Matty that way. Nobody talks to Matty that way.’”
The boy lived several streets away from Danny, and, according to police officers who originally investigated the case, he was hitchhiking with the victim about a week before the murder.
So Ed claims he was mentoring Scouts in Springfield as early as the 1960s.
Ed died in 1984, but his obituary contains nothing about him graduating from Siena College: he only “attended.” Truth be told, he would have been a great psychological study in “wanna-be” syndrome: he didn’t play sports but was “on” the teams as a trainer. Indeed, “Doc” wanted to be a doctor but merely settled on being an EMT for a time. His goal was to be a priest, but he never went beyond being a church outreach worker and a member of the Greymoor Friars. He went all the way to Siena College but never completed his studies. And when he returned to Springfield he enjoyed being a cop impersonator who drove a car decked out like an unmarked police vehicle with a searchlight (and ran a security systems business). Just think how much he liked portraying Santa Claus, once again playing at being an authority figure—or being a scoutmaster, wearing a uniform and badges.
The report also mentioned a source saying the boys in Sixteen Acres “told him a queer operating a [make and model deleted] would pick kids up and try to make them” around Duggan Junior High School.
In addition, according the report, another person interviewed “stated sometime in the past, a man in a tan car showed Danny some dirty books.”
Another guy from Sixteen Acres shared with me his experience with someone in a tan car in either 1971 or 1972. The person picked him up on Wilbraham Road as he was hitchhiking home from Duggan Junior High School and “whipped out a bunch of hardcore porno magazines,” he said. The rider had the driver drop him off a street away from where he lived to avoid getting stalked in the future. “A few months later I saw a kid I knew get out of the same car at Wilbraham and Parker and kick a dent in the rear quarter-panel before running off,” he said. He described the driver as wearing “a suit or maybe just a tie, with big goofy glasses—sort of a pudgy guy.” But he cautioned that these kinds of memories are tricky because it was so long ago. Upon reflection, the car, which may have been a Dodge Dart, was tan in a way—although the real color was probably that dull gold finish seen on a lot of cars in the 1970s.
Read parts 1, 2, and 4.