Owner of festive Chesterfield home found dead in Connecticut

CHESTERFIELD, N.H. -- John Chakalos, the recently widowed owner of the Pond Brook Road residence known for its festive holiday lights, was found dead in his Connecticut home Friday morning at the age of 87.

According to a statement from the Windsor (Conn.) Police Department, officers are investigating a suspicious death at a residence on Overlook Drive. Officers were called to the home at roughly 8:25 a.m. and found the resident dead. Joy Washburn, the caretaker of Chakalos' property at 140 Pond Brook Road in Chesterfield, confirmed that her employer was the deceased person.

A police representative stated the Connecticut State Police's major crime squad is assisting in the investigation.

Washburn told the Reformer a private investigator called her around 3 p.m., informing her Chakalos was found dead in his home by one of his daughters. She said the private investigator told her he had not yet been in the home at that point.

"I don't what's going on, but I've been very upset," she told the Reformer, Friday night. "It ain't gonna be the same without (John)."

Chakalos was a wealthy investor and was mourning the death of his wife Rita, who died the week before Thanksgiving. The couple had made a tradition of decorating their 82-acre Chesterfield property with holiday lights for public enjoyment. For several years, guests have been invited to drive through the estate, and asked to bring a monetary donation or non-perishable food item collected for Joan's Food Pantry, an organization of Asbury United Methodist Church. The lights are open from 6 to 9 p.m. every day until Sunday, Dec. 22.

The Chakalos' had split their time between their homes in Connecticut and New Hampshire.

Washburn said she has no intentions of canceling the lights and took it upon herself to turn them on Friday, even after learning of the death.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.


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