RUTLAND — A Vernon man who was a person of interest in the killing of his grandfather in 2013 and the disappearance of his mother in 2016 was arrested Tuesday and will be arraigned in federal court Wednesday, accused of killing her while at sea.
Nathan Carman, 28, is charged with murder on the high seas for killing his mother, Linda Carman.
Even though it has been cited repeatedly in court documents, Carman has not been charged with murder in the federal indictment for the killing of John Chakalos, whose estate was valued at more than $40 million and who had a mansion in Chesterfield, N.H.
Police in Windsor, Conn., tried to obtain an arrest warrant to charge Carman with the slaying of his grandfather, but prosecutors rejected it.
According to court documents, Nathan Carman, 28, allegedly killed John Chakalos and Linda Carman to gain access to his grandfather’s estate, valued at “tens of millions of dollars.”
In addition one count of murder, Carman also has been charged with seven counts of fraud for lying to investigators and attempting to profit off the deaths.
“As part of his estate planning, John Chakalos created various trusts, including the Chakalos Family Dynasty Trust, [which] was designed to provide distributions to the four daughters and to distribute John’s assets to trusts in the names of the four daughters,” states the indictment.
During 2012 and 2013, Carman spent significant time with his grandfather and attended various business meetings, states the indictment. As a result, Chakalos convinced his daughter to designate Nathan Carman as the beneficiary of her trust from the Dynasty Trust.
During this period, Chakalos paid for Nathan Carman’s personal expenses, including a truck and an apartment.
Beginning in 2013, Carman “devised a scheme to defraud the estate of John Chakalos,” which included killing his grandfather and his mother, states the indictment.
“On Nov. 11, 2013, Nathan Carman used the New Hampshire driver’s license to purchase a Sig Sauer rifle at Shooter’s Outpost in Hookset, N.H.,” states the federal indictment. “On Dec. 20, 2013, Nathan Carman murdered his grandfather, John Chakalos, shooting him twice with the Sig Sauer while Chakalos slept in his Windsor [Conn.] home.”
According to documents filed in courts in Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire, Carman was the last person to see his grandfather alive. Though the murder weapon was never found, a ballistics expert concluded the bullets that killed Chakalos came from a Sig Sauer.
Carman, who moved to Vermont in 2014, received $550,000 from his grandfather’s estate after the slaying, spending much of it between 2014 and 2016.
By fall 2016, he was low on funds, and he arranged to go on a fishing trip on his boat, the Chicken Pox, with his mother.
“Nathan Carman planned to kill his mother on the trip. He also planned how he would report the sinking of the Chicken Pox and his mother’s disappearance at sea as accidents,” states the indictment. “After leaving the marina, Nathan Carman killed his mother, Linda Carman, and eventually sank the Chicken Pox.”
Prior to setting sail on Sept. 18, 2016, with his mother from Ram Point Marina in South Kingstown, R.I., Carman told her they would be fishing near Block Island, returning home by noon the next day.
Little did Linda Carman know, her son had “altered the Chicken Pox in several ways, including removing two forward bulkheads and removing trim tabs from the transom of the hull,” states the indictment.
“All this made the boat unseaworthy,” said David Farrell, an attorney for the company insuring the Chicken Pox, in 2017.
Carman was found adrift in a life raft on Sept. 25, 2016, by the crew of a commercial ship.
“After being picked up ... Nathan Carman made false statements to the Coast Guard, to law enforcement investigating the disappearance of Linda Carman, and to others about what happened to Linda Carman and about what occurred on the Chicken Pox,” states the indictment.
A month later, Carman filed an insurance claim for the loss of the boat for about $85,000.
In January 2017, the insurance company denied Nathan Carman’s insurance claim, bringing a lawsuit against him in federal court in Rhode Island, seeking a declaratory judgment that the insurance company permissibly denied Carman’s insurance claim.
Throughout the process, states the indictment, Carman maintained his false narrative.
“Nathan Carman claims that while trolling north at 4 to 6 knots around midday, he discovered the boat’s bilge suddenly full of water,” said Farrell during the 2017 hearing. “He instructed his mother to reel in the lines, but he neither gave her a life vest nor told her the bilge was flooded.”
Carman, said Farrell, immediately prepared to abandon ship and then had three opportunities in the pilothouse, which he did not take, to summon help by using the marine radio or setting off the emergency position-indicating radio beacon on board the Chicken Pox.
“Despite the boat’s open-deck design, he never saw, spoke with or heard from [his mother] again, and as with his grandfather, Nathan Carman was the last person to see her alive,” he wrote.
Also in 2017, Valerie Santilli, the executor of John Chakalos’s estate and Carman’s aunt, filed an action in New Hampshire Probate Court, where the Chakalos estate was being probated, claiming that Carman killed his grandfather and mother.
The New Hampshire action sought to prevent Nathan Carman from benefiting from his grandfather’s and mother’s deaths.
Throughout the litigation, Carman “concocted cover stories to conceal his involvement in those killings,” states the indictment.
“If convicted of murder on the high seas, Carman faces mandatory life imprisonment,” states a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont.
The fraud charges each carry a potential penalty of up to 30 years of imprisonment.
Participants in the multiyear investigation of Carman included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Connecticut State Police, the Windsor, Conn., Police Department, and the South Kingstown Police Department.
Federal Bureau of Investigation and Coast Guard Investigative Service agents were seen at Carman’s house at 3043 Fort Bridgman Road in Vernon early Tuesday afternoon.
“It has been uneventful,” said Corp. Ian Gallup of the Windham County Sheriff’s Office.
Gallup said the two groups came into Vernon with warrants to arrest Carman and search his home. Questions were referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Vermont.
Chris Mays contributed to this report.