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Nathan Carman arrested in death of mother, who vanished at sea on fishing trip off Rhode Island coast

Nathan Carman was brought into the USCG Base Boston after the boat accident in 2016.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

Nearly six years after his mother disappeared at sea in a mysterious boating accident off the coast of Rhode Island, Nathan Carman was charged with her death Tuesday, and Vermont authorities indicated he had also allegedly killed his wealthy grandfather in Connecticut in 2013 to collect a large inheritance.

In September 2016, Carman and his mother set sail from Point Judith, R.I., for a fishing trip on his 31-foot aluminum boat, the Chicken Pox. A week later, he was alone when he was rescued from a life raft about 115 miles off Martha’s Vineyard. His mother, Linda, was presumed dead.

An unsealed federal indictment charged Carman with the murder of his mother and “related frauds to obtain family and insurance funds,” the US attorney’s office in Vermont said. Authorities also alleged that Carman, a 28-year-old who lives in Vernon, Vt., shot and killed his grandfather, John Chakalos, at his home in Windsor, Conn.

“Both killings were part of a scheme to obtain money and property from the estate of John Chakalos and related family trusts,” prosecutors said. “The indictment further alleges Carman attempted to defraud the company that insured his fishing boat.”

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Carman will be arraigned Wednesday on charges of first-degree murder and seven fraud-related crimes. The indictment did not include a specific charge in the killing of his grandfather.

Lawyers for Carman could not be reached for comment.

Nathan Carman had dinner with his grandfather the night before his death and was the last known person to see him alive, according to a police affidavit in the investigation. Nathan Carman was supposed to meet his mother a few hours later but never showed up and did not answer his phone, the affidavit said.

Investigators learned that Carman had purchased a Sig Sauer semiautomatic rifle in New Hampshire that was the same caliber as the weapon used in the slaying, which he did not disclose to police.

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While Carman was at the center of investigations into both deaths, he had not been criminally charged until Tuesday. He has denied involvement in both deaths. In an interview with the Globe in 2016, Carman said his boat sank suddenly and he couldn’t find his mother and didn’t have time to radio for help.

About a year after Carman’s boat sank, his aunts filed a lawsuit accusing him of killing his grandfather, and possibly his mother, as part of a scheme to collect a multimillion-dollar inheritance. In 2019, a judge overseeing an insurance trial ruled that Carman had “made improper and faulty repairs” to his boat that contributed to its sinking. Lawyers for the insurers had alleged that Carman sabotaged the boat to kill his mother.

On Tuesday, federal prosecutors said Chakalos “made tens of millions of dollars” as a real estate developer and created various trusts as part of his estate planning, including meant for his four daughters, including Linda Carman.

Nathan Carman entered court in Providence in 2019. He has been living in Vermont the last few years.Nic Antaya for The Boston Globe

Beginning in 2012, Nathan Carman began asking his grandfather’s trust attorney and financial adviser detailed questions about how the trusts operated and his own stake in the estate, the indictment said. By 2013, Chakalos had set up two bank accounts that named Nathan Carman as the beneficiary upon his death. One account, worth about $150,000, was meant for his college costs, while another worth roughly $400,000 listed both Linda and Nathan Carman as beneficiaries.

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At some point, prosecutors said, Chakalos convinced Linda Carman to designate Nathan, her only child, as the beneficiary of her trust. The indictment alleged that in December 2013, Carman shot Chakalos, 87, twice while he was asleep.

Court records filed in Connecticut in 2014 showed that although Carman had been a suspect in his grandfather’s death, a court determined there was not enough evidence to arrest him. The court records said that Carman, who has Asperger syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism, “was capable of violence when his coping mechanisms were challenged” and that a tenant in his building told police he was “a time bomb waiting to go off.”

After the murder, Carman received approximately $550,000, authorities said. He moved to Vermont in 2014 and was unemployed for most of the next two years.

“By the fall of 2016, he was low on funds,” the indictment said. Before the fishing trip with his mother, Carman made a number of modifications to his boat that compromised its integrity, prosecutors said, “including removing two forward bulkheads and removing trim tabs from the transom of the hull.”

“Nathan Carman planned to kill his mother on the trip,” the indictment said. “He also planned how he would report the sinking of the Chicken Pox and his mother’s disappearance at sea as accidents.”

In 2019, a federal judge in Rhode Island ruled that Carman wasn’t entitled to collect $85,000 from two insurers because he “made improper and faulty repairs” to his boat that “directly or indirectly” caused it to sink. In his ruling, US District Judge John J. McConnell Jr. wrote that evidence showed that Carman’s boat was unseaworthy when he left the marina “because he improperly repaired the holes he created by removing the trim tabs, and he compromised the boat’s stability by removing the bulkheads.”

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Carman testified that he and his mother were trolling for fish about 100 miles off Long Island in an area known as Block Canyon when the boat suddenly began to sink. He said he yelled for his mother but did not see or hear her.

Globe correspondent Nick Stoico contributed to this report.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Shelley Murphy can be reached at shelley.murphy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shelleymurph.