BURLINGTON, Vt. — A Vermont man found floating in a life raft off the coast of Rhode Island in 2016 after his boat sank has been indicted on charges alleging he killed his mother at sea in order to inherit his family’s estate.
A federal grand jury on Tuesday handed down an eight-count indictment in federal court in Burlington, accusing Nathan Carman, 28, in his mother’s death. The indictment also says he killed his grandfather, John Chakalos, at Chakalos’ home in Windsor, Connecticut, in 2013 as part of an effort to defraud insurance companies. He was not charged with Chakalos’ killing.
Carman was found in an inflatable raft a week after he and his mother, 54-year-old Linda Carman, went on a fishing trip.
His mother was never found and is presumed dead.
Carman was arrested Tuesday. He’s due in U.S. District Court in Burlington on Wednesday. His lawyer did not return a call seeking comment.
In 2019, U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell Jr. determined at a bench trial in Rhode Island that Carman’s faulty repairs contributed to the 2016 sinking of the boat that led to his mother being lost at sea.
McConnell ruled in favor of an insurance company that had refused to pay an $85,000 claim to Carman for the loss of his 31-foot fishing boat, Chicken Pox.
Evidence showed that Carman removed bulkheads from the front of the boat that experts testified provided structural support and buoyancy. Carman told the court that he also removed trim tabs from the back of the boat the day before departing on the fishing trip with his mother, creating holes that he plugged with putty. He also replaced a bilge pump that same day after finding water in the boat.
Carman testified at trial that he and his mother set out to fish off Block Island before heading to Block Canyon, premiere fishing grounds far offshore. They planned to return by nightfall the next day.
Carman described the moments leading up to the sinking. He discovered water in the bilge and turned the engine off. He asked his mother to pull in the fishing lines. He readied a life raft and grabbed three packages of survival gear from the pilothouse. The floor felt spongy and seconds later, the boat went under. He had not placed a distress call or alerted his mother that they were in peril.
“But you didn’t shout out to your mother to be prepared?” McConnell asked at trial.
“I didn’t know the boat was going down until I was in the water,” Carman said.
“I treated my mother like a passenger,” Carman said. “She was more of a problem than a solution.”
Carman said he got into the life raft, which was equipped with 30 days of food, and called out for his mother but got no response.
Carman filed an insurance claim weeks after the boat vanished. The insurers denied his claim after reviewing the case.
Carman denied doing anything to intentionally make the boat unseaworthy.
In the ruling, McConnell rejected Carman’s arguments that the insurers operated in bad faith and breached their contract to provide coverage.
Carman’s aunts have long tried to block him from receiving millions of dollars in inheritance, alleging that his actions contributed to his mother’s death. Carman had remained a person of interest in the fatal shooting of his grandfather, a developer in Connecticut.
For years, Carman has denied his aunts’ allegations.
If convicted of murder, Carman faces mandatory life imprisonment, according to the U.S. Attorney in Vermont. He could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison on the fraud charges, the U.S. Attorney said.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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