Almost 6 years later, the man was charged with his mother’s death at sea

HARTFORD, Conn. – The circumstantial evidence against Nathan Carman had been lying open for years before his surprise indictment and arrest this month on allegations that he killed his mother at sea off New England to inherit millions of dollars.

Federal prosecutors in Vermont are not commenting on the timing of their decision to bring the case to a grand jury, and the indictment contains no leads or new information about the case, which involved a dramatic rescue at sea and the suspicious deaths of two members of a wealthy family from New England.

Legal experts and other law enforcement officials say the delay in starting a criminal case could be the result of several factors, including the fact that his mother and boat were never found.

“It’s very difficult to prosecute murder at the federal level … so I think what the government has done over the past six years is build their case to charge him with mail fraud and wire fraud,” said Jessica Brown, a former state and Federal Attorney Public Defender who is now an assistant professor at Vermont Law School.


The grand jury indictment charges 28-year-old Carman, of Vernon, Vermont, with murder and fraud in the murder of his mother, Linda Carman, during a fishing trip that began in Rhode Island. Carman made international headlines when he was found alone in a life raft near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, eight days after he and his mother left port.

The indictment also alleges that he fatally shot his multimillionaire grandfather, John Chakalos, in Connecticut in 2013, but does not charge him with that killing. He has repeatedly denied any involvement in either death.

Federal prosecutors say her death paved the way for Carman to inherit an estimated $7 million — his mother’s share of the Chakalos estate. The inheritance remains tied up in Connecticut probate court, where his mother’s three sisters try to prevent Carman from receiving money from his grandfather’s estate.

Seven of the eight counts relate to what prosecutors say are fraudulent attempts to get money from his grandfather’s estate or from insurance companies. The other count accuses Carman of killing his mother.


Vermont U.S. Attorney Nikolas Kerest, through a spokesman, declined to comment on the case.

Federal Attorney Michael Desautels, whose office is defending Carman, also declined to comment on the charges.

“His mental state is strong and he knows he has a good team of defenders working for him,” said Desautels.

Some law enforcement officials involved in the investigation said the charges could be the result of new evidence that is not being disclosed. Or perhaps federal prosecutors in Vermont were more aggressive when they collated all of the evidence gathered by a variety of local, state, and federal agencies and presented it to a grand jury.

“One of the issues is jurisdiction, especially when you’re crossing state lines, and who has the ability to bring all of that together under one roof,” said Donald Melanson, police chief in Windsor, Connecticut, where Chakalos was killed. “And I think that’s why the US Attorney’s Office rightly took that on and took responsibility for it and put it all together.”


“If you look at the big picture … it gives me a very clear picture of how everything connects to achieve his (Carman’s) goals,” he said.

In 2014, before Melanson joined the department, Windsor Police drafted an arrest warrant charging Carman with murder in his grandfather’s death, but a prosecutor declined to sign it and requested more information on how from a Search warrant for Linda Carman’s home in Middletown, Connecticut, obtained by police after she disappeared at sea. Neither state nor federal prosecutors in Connecticut or Rhode Island have ever filed charges against Carman.

The case went cold. Then came the ill-fated fishing trip that aroused investigators’ suspicions about Carman. But the investigation into the disappearance of Linda Carman did not lead to an arrest either.

In 2017, investigators began keeping tabs on a lawsuit filed in federal court in Providence, Rhode Island, in which insurers and Carman sued each other over his denied $85,000 claim for the loss of his boat named “chickenpox.” sued. The insurance case has consolidated all the evidence and may have sparked a new attempt to indict Carman, current and former investigators said.


Insurers’ attorneys presented a case in which they accused Carman of plotting and covering up both murders, using police investigative evidence and information they had obtained themselves, including:

— A month before Chakalos was shot, Carman bought a rifle that could fire the same bullets as those used in the shooting. Carman invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during testimony when asked about the rifle, which was never found.

— Carman destroyed his laptop’s hard drive and a GPS device in his truck after his grandfather was killed. He took fifth again when asked why.

– Prior to the 2016 fishing trip, Carman had altered the boat in a way that contributed to its sinking, the Rhode Island judge found in denying Carman’s insurance claim. Witnesses said he removed two stabilizing trim tabs from the stern near the ship’s waterline, leaving holes that he tried to seal with an epoxy stick.


– An expert on tide patterns testified that from where Carman claimed the boat sank, the liferaft could not have swam towards Martha’s Vineyard, but had actually drifted in the opposite direction. Carman’s attorneys said it was his first time using nautical charts and that he was confused about the boat’s location.

After his grandfather was killed, Carman inherited approximately $550,000.

In late summer 2016, prosecutors said that Carman, who had moved to Vermont from Connecticut, was unemployed and cash-strapped after quickly burning through most of that money, much of which he spent on his new home.

At the time, he organized the fishing trip with his mother with a plan to kill her, authorities said. The mother and son relationship was strained, but fishing was one of the ways they were still able to bond.

Carman remains incarcerated while his case is pending.

Federal prosecutors argued in court filings that he should remain incarcerated pending trial because he is a flight risk and a danger to the community.


Prosecutors cited the violence and planning involved in the two murders and his apparent lack of connections to his community — a factor in the bail arguments. They said he has little personal contact with other people as he has alienated his family over his behavior.

They also said he stopped the mental health treatment he received from early childhood until he was 17. They wrote that Carman was diagnosed with potential mood and psychotic disorders in 2011 and had a history of hostility and aggression.

Carman and his relatives have also said he has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism that can be characterized by social awkwardness and repetitive behavior but is not associated with an increased likelihood of violence.

Carman has said he is misunderstood and an easy target for police because he has Asperger’s.


Lavoie reported from Richmond, Virginia. Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Lisa Rathke in Montpelier, Vermont, and Jennifer McDermott in Providence, Rhode Island, and AP news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/national/2022/05/26/nearly-6-years-later-man-indicted-in-mothers-death-at-sea/ Almost 6 years later, the man was charged with his mother’s death at sea

Sarah Y. Kim

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