When Linda Carman accepted an offer from her 22-year-old son to embark on what she thought would be an enjoyable mother and son fishing trip in September 2016, she had no idea how horribly wrong it would all go. The ship sank and Linda disappeared at sea, leaving her son, Nathan, to float adrift on a life raft for eight days before being rescued, claiming he was overcome with grief and had nothing to do with the tragic accident.
The federal authorities believed otherwise. And on Tuesday, six years later, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Vermont announced that Nathan Carman, now 28, had been arrested and charged with the sordid murder of his mother, as well as “related fraud to obtain family and insurance funds”.
An unsealed indictment, first handed down by a grand jury on May 2, also charged Carman with fatally shooting his sleeping grandfather, a man named John Chakalos, in 2013. The two alleged murders “were part of a scheme to obtain money and property from the estate. of John Chakalos and related family trusts,” prosecutors said.
Chakalos was a wealthy man, having earned “tens of millions of dollars” in property development, according to the filing. To distribute his wealth to his four daughters, including Linda, after his death the tycoon had established the Chakalos Family Dynasty Trust, along with a number of other trusts. Beginning in 2012, the indictment reads, Nathan began spending “meaningful time” with Chakalos, attending business meetings alongside his grandfather and posing to his advisers. financiers “detailed questions” about the trust.
Eventually the filing claims, Chakalos convinced Linda to name her son as the beneficiary of her share of the Dynasty pot. Nathan, who graduated from high school in 2012, enrolled in community college but struggled to complete most of his classes. His apartment and his truck had been paid for by his grandfather.
Then, five days before Christmas 2013, Nathan allegedly entered the Chakalos, Connecticut home with a gun in the dead of night and shot his 87-year-old grandfather twice, according to the indictment. He then allegedly threw away the hard drive from his computer and the GPS system from his truck. He was named a person of interest in the case, but denied to investigators any involvement in Chakalos’ murder.
“My grandfather was the closest person to me. He was like a father to me and I know I was like a son to him,” Nathan said. ABC News in 2016. “I know my grandfather was the biggest victim of his homicide, but I feel like the second biggest victim because I totally lost the most important person in my life. world.”
The windfall Carman received from his grandfather’s estate—about $550,000—was short-lived. Moving to Vermont, he spent most of the money over the next two years, according to the indictment. In the fall of 2016, he ran out of money.
So he chartered a fishing trip for him and Linda aboard a boat, the Chicken Pox, which he had purchased. “Nathan Carman planned to kill his mother on the trip,” the indictment reads. To pull off the kill, he allegedly tampered with the 31ft aluminum fishing boat before the couple set sail, removing two forward bulkheads and the stern trim tabs, leaving holes in the hull below the waterline. The Carmans departed a port in Rhode Island on September 17, 2016.
Linda, 54, thought she and her son would be back in port by noon the next day, leaving a float plane with friends saying as much. Instead, the duo went missing the next day and the Coast Guard launched a search. Carman, adrift on an inflatable life raft, was picked up by a passing freighter on September 25.
After his rescue, the 22-year-old told Coast Guard officers he and Linda were trawling for tuna when he heard a strange noise. Carman claimed to have lifted a hatch to discover an accumulation of water at the bottom of the boat. He never activated a distress signal.
“I actually have a very strong aversion to pressing a button that’s going to bring out a helicopter,” he told a judge in 2019, adding that he thought he could have solved the problem himself. even, according to The Boston Globe.
By the time it was clear they were in danger, Carman told the Coast Guard, it was too late. He claimed to have reached a life raft, which automatically deployed, and looked around screaming for his mother. But he never saw or heard from her again, he said.
“I didn’t hear her scream,” he told the judge in 2019 in a separate case brought by his insurance company.
Immediately suspicious, Vermont police launched a reckless endangerment investigation hours after Carman arrived on land. Investigators alleged in an affidavit that the chicken pox needed repairs, “and that Nathan made some of those repairs on his own, which could have potentially made his boat unsafe,” according to ABC News.
“I know I was not responsible for the sinking of the boat,” Carman told the outlet on Sept. 28, 2016. “I know I was not responsible for anything that resulted from the sinking of the boat. I know that I was not responsible for the death of my mother. But at the same time, I feel like I am responsible for the fact that my mother and I are there and in the situation. If I don’t hadn’t asked my mom to go fishing with me this weekend, she would still be alive with me today.
Carman’s father, Clark, said CBSBoston around the same time Linda’s death was an accident. “The past is the past, and what I want to say about that is, I wish the press would leave him alone, because he wasn’t involved with his grandfather, with his mother,” he said. he declared. “It was a pure accident, and he would never do something like that.”
In November 2019, a federal judge ruled in a separate case that Carman was not entitled to the $85,000 insurance claim he made for the chickenpox loss. The two-week trial had determined that Carman had “directly or indirectly” made modifications to the boat, causing it to sink, Judge John J. McConnell Jr. said. The judge’s ruling did “not determine whether Mr. Carman had intent to sink his boat or harm his mother,” he said, according to the World.
In an email to the newspaper, Carman denied trying to harm his mother. “If I have one regret it is that, having been raised publicly, the allegations of intent made in this case did not form part of the trial,” he writes vehemently, “and therefore I have not not had the opportunity to take them head-on”. to clear my name once and for all with a lawsuit on these matters.
Luckily for Carman, it looks like he will have his day in court after all, with an arraignment for his criminal case scheduled for Wednesday in Vermont.