Man Who Lost Mother in Boat Sinking Once Considered Suspect in Grandpa's Murder
The Vermont man found in a lifeboat eight days after disappearing during a fishing trip with his mother, now presumed dead at sea, was once suspected in his grandfather’s unsolved murder, according to reports.
Nathan Carman was the last known person to see John Chakalos alive before the 87-year-old real estate developer was found by one of his daughters shot to death in his Windsor, Connecticut, home in 2013, according to a search warrant application by Windsor police obtained by the Hartford Courant.
Chakalos’s grisly death came less than a month after the passing of his wife of 59 years, who had lost her battle with cancer on November 21, 2013.
"John dedicated his life to his marriage, work and community, and above all, family. His favorite motto was 'without family you've got nothing; family is everything,'" his obituary read.
Police began eyeing Carman, then 20, in his grandfather’s slaying after his mother, Linda Carman, told them her son failed to meet her in Glastonbury at 3 a.m. that morning to drive to Rhode Island as discussed, the paper wrote.
Investigators reportedly found a Remington tactical shotgun, a rifle scope and several boxes of ammo in Carman’s apartment, but the rifle did not match the caliber of the gun used to kill Chakalos, who had been shot three times in the head and torso.
The warrant, submitted by police to arrest Carman on a murder charge, was returned the next day unsigned by the prosecutor, who requested further information, the Courant wrote.
Carman was never arrested or charged.
Chakalos’ murder remains unsolved. A billboard posted on Interstate 91 by the state notes the WWII veteran’s family is offering a $250,000 reward for information.
His will showed Chakalos left an estate worth more than $42 million to his four adult daughters, according to WCVB.
Tragedy hit the family again as Carman, now 22, and his mother vanished after setting out on their 32-foot aluminum center console boat, the “Chickenpox,” from Point Judith, Rhode Island, on September 17.
Carman, who has Asperger's syndrome — a form of autism — was discovered alive in a raft two days after the Coast Guard suspended their search for the pair, who often went on fishing trips together.
He told authorities his boat capsized near Block Canyon, not Block Island as initially reported, and said he did not know where his mother was.
“There was a funny noise in the engine compartment,” Carman told the Coast Guard via radio from the freighter, audio released by officials shows. “I looked and saw a lot of water.”
He told officials he “brought the safety stuff forward,” at which point “the boat just dropped out from under my feet.”
“When I saw the life raft, I did not see my mom. Have you found her?” he asked.
Linda Carman, 54, is presumed dead, but loved ones could not concede that all was lost.
“There’s very little hope, but we’re not ready to give up yet,” friend Sharon Hartstein told InsideEdition.com Tuesday, calling her friend “resourceful” with “a survivalist mentality.”
A reward for information leading to the woman and boat is in the works, Hartstein said.
“She deserves to be home,” she said. “She’s just such a good person … the world will not be the same if she’s not in it.”
No distress call was made from the boat, but it was not immediately clear if the boat had the radio needed to make such a call.
A friend of Linda Carman told police that she refused to go fishing any further than Block Island and that she believed their destination was nearby Striper Rock, a search warrant executed on Monday to search Carman’s Vernon apartment said.
“The Canyons,” where a witness told police Carman said he was going fishing, are approximately 100 miles offshore, while Block Island is approximately 20 miles off the Rhode Island shoreline, the search warrant said. Carman had allegedly tried to get his mother to go out to the “Canyons” on previous occasions, the warrant said.
For Linda Carman, fishing was a way to spend time with her son, a very private young man, Hartstein said.
“She doesn’t eat fish,” she said. “Fishing was something he liked to do.”
A witness told police that Carman removed the trim tabs — which correct listing, or tilting, and help a vessel operate as intended over a broad range of water conditions — from his boat and patched the holes with a marine sealant, the warrant said.
The witness also told police he did not see any fishing equipment.
Another witness told investigators there were “many issues” with Carman’s boat, including problems with a newly installed motor and air getting into the lines. It was unclear if the problems witnesses reported seeing were fixed prior to the boat trip.
Police seized a cable modem, a SIM card and a letter written by Carman from his apartment in a search for evidence of reckless endangerment, the warrant said.
Carman was reunited with his father after being interviewed by Coast Guard officials Tuesday for a “survivor de-briefing,” which is standard procedure for people rescued at sea.
“Emotionally, I’ve been through a huge amount,” he told reporters. “I would just like to thank the public for their prayers and for their concern for both my mother and for myself. I would like to thank the crew of the ship that rescued me, both for rescuing me and for treating me very well.”
Carman has not been charged with a crime and his attorney said this was a tragic accident.