Nathan Carman, the man accused of killing his mother at sea in 2016 to get family and insurance money, has died in federal custody, according to a new court filing from federal prosecutors.
“The United States received information from the U.S. Marshal that Carman died on or about June 15, 2023. Dismissal of the charges against Carman is thus appropriate,” the filing states.
No cause of death was given. A spokesperson for the Vermont US Attorney’s Office said Thursday they had no further comment beyond the filing.
Carman was arrested in May 2022 and pleaded not guilty to fraud charges and a murder charge in connection with his mother’s death. Nathan was found adrift in a life raft in 2016, a week after he and his mother, Linda Carman, began a fishing trip off the coast of New England. His mother’s body was never recovered.
A trial was previously scheduled to begin in October of this year, according to court records. A judge would have handed down a mandatory life sentence for murder on the high seas to Carman, had he been convicted. The fraud charges carried a sentence of up to 30 years in prison each, the Vermont US Attorney’s Office said.
The indictment says Carman was also accused of fatally shooting his grandfather, John Chakalos, in his Connecticut home in 2013. Chakalos made “tens of millions of dollars” through real estate ventures, the indictment says. Carman’s alleged crimes were “part of a scheme to obtain money and property from the estate of John Chakalos and related family trusts,” according to a news release from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont. Carman was not charged with murder in his grandfather’s death.
But all eyes were on Carman in the 2016 death of his mother.
In September of that year, the then-22-year-old and his mother, Linda Carman, 54, were reported missing, a police affidavit said. The night before, they had embarked on their usual weekend fishing trip, departing from Ram Point Marina, Rhode Island.
Days later, on September 25, a Chinese freighter found Nathan Carman by himself, adrift in a life raft. Carman then contacted the US Coast Guard from the freighter.
“There was a funny noise in the engine compartment. I looked and saw a lot of water,” Carman told a Coast Guard Search and Rescue Controller, according to a Coast Guard recording. “I was bringing one of the safety bags forward, the boat dropped out from under my feet. When I saw the life raft, I did not see my mom. Have you found her?”
According to the South Kingstown Police affidavit, “Linda and Nathan had different intentions as to the final destination of the fishing trip.” The mother had told her friend they were going to fish at a spot some 20 miles off Rhode Island, while the son told a local man they were going to another spot about 100 miles offshore.
The local, who had small talk with Nathan Carman, also noticed he had removed the boat’s trim tabs, devices that help the boat steer with more control and fuel efficiency. He also did not see any fishing poles in the boat, and when he asked Carman about them, he didn’t get an answer.
The marina manager told CNN there had been “many” repair issues with the vessel, a used 32-foot aluminum-covered fiberglass boat that Nathan Carman had purchased earlier in the year.
The Carman family had a history of police investigations.
Linda Carman had been arrested in 2011 for an alleged assault of her then-85-year-old father, John Chakalos.
There had been an argument over the direction of care for Nathan, who had Asperger’s syndrome. The case was never prosecuted and was eventually dismissed, with Linda Carman claiming self-defense.
Then, in 2013, Chakalos, a wealthy real estate investor whose estate exceeded $42 million, was killed. His wife had died of cancer only a month earlier.
There was no forced entry and nothing stolen, according to Gerry Klein, who was Linda Carman’s attorney. Linda Carman was questioned heavily, and Nathan Carman was a suspect, but a search warrant in his then-Middletown home produced firearm rifles that did not match the caliber of the weapon used in the killing.
Also, according to Klein, the grandfather and grandson had been very close, and Linda Carman insisted that her son was not capable of any violence, especially taking the life of someone he loved. Klein also noted Linda Carman told him Nathan was with her fishing at the time the grandfather was killed, but media reports had said Nathan never showed up.
After Chakalos’s death, Nathan Carman received the money from the two bank accounts his grandfather had set up. Between the years of 2014 and 2016, he spent most of it and by the fall of 2016, he was “low on funds,” according to the indictment.