FOR six years, proving the circumstances surrounding the death of a millionaire lost at sea had stumped the authorities.
Linda Carman was reported missing after her son Nathan was found alone in a life raft near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, in 2016.
Their boat had gone down within minutes of him hearing “a funny noise”, Nathan claimed.
The then 22-year-old said he had seen his mother in the cockpit before grabbing bags of food, flares and life jackets.
However, when he looked back, he says she was gone.
“What happened on the boat was a terrible tragedy that I am still trying to process and that I am still trying to come to terms with,” he said.
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But police now say a chilling link between her death and that of her father – and Nathan's grandfather – John Chakalos has finally solved the mystery.
A grand jury indictment, first reported earlier this month, accuses Carman, 28, of Vernon, Vermont, of murder and fraud in the killing of his mother.
The indictment also accuses him of fatally shooting his millionaire grandfather, John Chakalos, in 2013 in Connecticut, but does not charge him with that killing.
He has repeatedly denied any involvement in both deaths.
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Here The Sun explores the shocking case which has gripped the a wealthy enclave of the US more commonly associated with it's celebrity inhabitants than murder mysteries.
Authorities claimed in the indictment that on November 11, 2013, Carman used his New Hampshire driver’s license to purchase a rifle that he used on December 20, 2013, to shoot Chakalos while he slept.
After Chakalos’ death, Carman received $550,000 from different accounts.
He moved to Vermont in 2014 where he was unemployed and by the fall of 2016 was low on funds.
In September 2016, Carman then arranged to go on a fishing trip with his mother on his boat named the “Chicken Pox.”
“Nathan Carman planned to kill his mother on the trip,” the indictment says. “He also planned how he would report the sinking of the ‘Chicken Pox’ and his mother’s disappearance at sea as accidents.”
The relationship between mother and son was strained, but fishing was one of the ways they were still able to connect.
Nathan was found floating in the raft by the crew of a freighter eight days after the boat was reported missing.
The dramatic rescue made international headlines.
Linda Carman’s body has never been found and she is presumed dead.
But federal prosecutors say the two deaths paved the way for Carman to inherit an estimated $7 million — his mother’s share of Chakalos’ estate.
The inheritance remains tied up in probate court in Connecticut, where his mother’s three sisters are seeking to bar Carman from receiving any money from his grandfather’s estate.
In 2017, investigators began keeping tabs on a lawsuit filed in federal court in Providence, Rhode Island, where insurers and Carman were suing each other over his rejected $85,000 claim for the loss of his boat, named the “Chicken Pox.”
The insurance case tied all the evidence together and may have spurred a new effort to charge Carman, current and former investigators said.
The insurers’ lawyers laid out a case accusing Carman of plotting both killings and covering them up, using police investigation findings and information they obtained themselves.
Some of those findings include Carmen buying a rifle that can fire the same bullets as the ones used in the shooting of his grandfather.
Carman invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a deposition when asked about the rifle, which was never found.
Nathan also destroyed his laptop computer’s hard drive and a GPS device in his truck after his grandfather was killed. He again took the Fifth when asked why.
Before the 2016 fishing trip, Carman had altered the boat in ways that contributed to its sinking, the judge in the Rhode Island case found in rejecting Carman’s insurance claim.
Witnesses testified he removed two stabilizing trim tabs from the stern, near the vessel’s waterline, leaving holes that he tried to seal with an epoxy stick.
And an expert on tidal patterns testified the life raft could not have floated toward Martha’s Vineyard from the spot Carman claimed the boat sank, but in fact, would have drifted in the opposite direction.
Carman’s attorneys said that it was the first time he had used sea charts and that he was confused about the boat’s location.
Federal prosecutors in Vermont are not commenting on the timing of their decision to put the case before a grand jury, and the indictment offers no clues and no new information on the case,
Legal experts and other law enforcement officials say the delay in bringing a criminal case could be the result of several factors, including that his mother and his boat have never been found.
“It’s very difficult to charge murder federally…so I think what the government has been doing for the last six years is to build its case to charge him with mail fraud and wire fraud,” said Jessica Brown, a former state and federal public defender.
Some law enforcement officials who were involved in the investigation said the indictment could be the result of new evidence that is not being disclosed.
Nathan has previously denied any involvement in his mother's or grandfather’s death.
“My grandfather was like a father to me, and I was like a son to him,” said Carman.
“He was the closest person in the world to me, and I loved him and he loved me, and I had absolutely nothing to do with his death.”
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But Donald Melanson, police chief in Windsor, Connecticut, where Chakalos was killed told The Associated Press: "When you look at the overall picture…it brings, to me, a very clear picture of how everything tied together to achieve his (Carman’s) goals."
Carman remains detained while his case is pending. If convicted of the murder charge, he faces life in prison.
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