Son Charged With 'Murder on the High Seas' for Ocean Death of His Mother in Alleged Inheritance Scam: Feds

Murder on the High Seas
Nathan Carman after being rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard in 2016.Getty

The alleged scheme involved killing his mother in a boating "accident" so he could inherit millions, according to federal prosecutors.

A 28-year-old son has been charged with "murder on the high seas" for the boating death of his mother nearly six years ago, authorities said, in a scheme to reap a fortune in inheritance and insurance monies, federal prosecutors said.

Nathan Carman was arrested last week in Vermont by federal authorities. He pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to first-degree murder and multiple counts of fraud in connection with the death of his mom.

A bail hearing scheduled for Monday was postponed for 60 days so his newly assigned federal public defenders could review the case, a judge ruled.

According to the unsealed indictment, Nathan Carman shot and killed his grandfather, John Chakalos, in 2013, as the man slept in his Connecticut bed. Three years later, Carman killed his mother, Linda, and sunk his boat during a purported fishing trip off the coast of Rhode Island, the indictment said. 

Chief US District Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford postponed the hearing for 60 days and told Carman’s lawyers they may seek a continuance if they need more time for their investigation. Carman will remain in custody during that time as he awaits trial.

Prosecutors claimed Carman is violent, mentally unstable, and “has little or no empathy for others.” They also said he is a flight risk.

“Carman’s alleged conduct clearly illustrates danger to the community. The evidence shows that he killed not once, but twice,” Vermont U.S. Attorney Nikolas Kerest said in a motion. “Moreover, the individuals Carman killed were his own family members. For an individual to kill his own family members, nothing is off the table.”

Though federal prosecutors allege Carman shot to death his grandfather, he has not been charged with that killing.

Carman made national headlines after he was plucked from a life raft in the Atlantic by searchers who spent eight days trying to find him after his boat, the Chicken Pox, sank in the waters outside eastern Long Island.

He told authorities he had been on a fishing trip with his 54-year-old mother when the 32-foot vessel started taking on water. He couldn't find the woman, and he thought she had gone down with the boat, authorities said.

The indictment contends that before Carman left the marina with his mother, he sabotaged his boat to make it easier to sink by removing two bulkheads at the front and removing two trim tabs that left holes in the stern near the water line, prosecutors said.

Carman allegedly convinced his grandfather to put more than $500,000 into accounts bearing the young man's name, prosecutors said. By 2016, he had moved to Vermont and spent most of the money, the indictment said.

In September of that year, he invited his mother to go deep sea fishing, plotting to get rid of both the boat and her, 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,” the document said.

His grandfather had amassed tens of millions of dollars by renting and building nursing homes, authorities said. He had established several trusts to benefit his four daughters, which included Carman's mom, Linda.

Each woman was allowed to name her own beneficiary after their father's death, prosecutors said. Linda Carman named her son, authorities said.

Her body has never been found. After his water rescue, Carman filed an $85,000 insurance claim over the loss of his boat. That case ended up in a federal court in Rhode Island and was ultimately rejected because of the unsafe changes Carman made to the vessel, the indictment said.

“As part of his cover-up, Nathan Carman misrepresented his involvement in, and responsibility for, those deaths to law enforcement, (and) to his family, to others who made inquiries about the deaths and their circumstances," the indictment said.

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