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Nathan Carman ‘enlarged’ holes in boat’s hull, court filing says

Nathan Carman arrived by boat in September 2016 at the US Coast Guard station in Boston after spending a week at sea in a life raft. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press/File

Nathan Carman, the Vermont man at the center of separate probes into the murder of his wealthy grandfather and presumed death of his mother, used a power tool to enlarge holes in his boat before setting out on the vessel, which sank with his mother on board, court records allege.

The information appeared in court papers filed Thursday in federal court in Rhode Island by lawyers for the company that insured Carman’s boat. It sank in September 2016 in waters approximately 100 miles offshore. Carman’s mother, Linda Carman, wasn’t found, but Carman was rescued a week later on a life raft about 115 miles off Martha’s Vineyard.


The insurer, National Liability and Fire Insurance Co., and another group that sold the policy are suing Carman in Rhode Island, asking a judge to declare his insurance claim on the boat invalid.

“In removing his boat’s trim tabs hours before departing on its final voyage, Carman not only failed to properly seal four thruhull holes he thereby opened at the transom’s waterline, but two recent depositions establish Carman enlarged those four holes,” the insurer’s lawyers wrote in Thursday’s filing.

The man who refurbished and sold the vessel to Carman testified during a deposition on Wednesday that the four transom thru-hull holes he drilled when installing the trim tabs were half an inch in diameter, in accordance with manufacturer directions, the attorneys wrote.

The court papers said Carman testified during a separate deposition that the holes were the size of half dollars when he removed the trim tabs.

However, the insurer’s attorneys wrote, another witness said during an October deposition that he saw Carman “bending over the transom using an electric power drill with a 1½ [inch] to 2 [inch] diameter hole saw hours before the final voyage. As the transom holes have gotten bigger, Carman’s problems in this case have also grown. This is evidence plaintiffs did not know about until the fall of 2017. No wonder the boat sank and Carman’s mother died.”


Carman’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment Friday morning.

In addition to the presumed death of Carman’s mother, the 2013 shooting death in Connecticut of his grandfather, multimillionaire developer John Chakalos, also remains under investigation by law enforcement. Carman, 23, was the last person to see his mother and grandfather alive.

He has adamantly denied killing his relatives.

No one has been charged criminally in either case, but authorities have previously labeled Carman a person of interest in his grandfather’s death.

After the slaying, investigators learned Carman had purchased a Sig Sauer semiautomatic rifle in New Hampshire that was the same caliber as the weapon used in the slaying, but he had never told police. He declined to take a polygraph test.

Chakalos left behind a $44 million estate that went to his children, including Linda Carman. That cash is the subject of another ongoing legal battle.

In a civil suit pending in New Hampshire, attorneys for Chakalos’s three surviving daughters are asking a probate court overseeing his estate to “declare that the murderer was Nathan Carman — John’s grandson, their nephew — and that Nathan committed this heinous act out of malice and greed,” records show. The sisters are seeking to block Carman from receiving any inheritance.

Shelley Murphy of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.