A man who was rescued from a raft off the coast of New England in 2016 after his boat sank has pleaded not guilty to killing his mother at sea in a plot to inherit the family’s estate.
Nathan Carman, 28, was arraigned in federal court in Rutland, Vermont on Wednesday on multiple fraud counts and a charge of murder on the high seas in the death of his mom Linda Carman.
He shouted ‘Not guilty!’ in the direction of reporters who asked him if he had killed his mother as he approached the courtroom, where he then entered a formal plea of not guilty.
Authorities alleged in the indictment unsealed Tuesday that Carman also fatally shot his grandfather, John Chakalos, at his home in Windsor, Connecticut, in 2013 as part of a scheme to obtain money and property from his grandfather’s estate, but he was not charged with that killing.
‘As a central part of the scheme, Nathan Carman murdered John Chakalos and Linda Carman,’ the indictment reads.
Carman is seen after his ‘rescue’ at sea in 2016. Prosecutors say he killed his mother and intentionally sank his boat as part of a scheme to gain a $7 million inheritance
Carman allegedly killed his mother (pictured together) and grandfather in a bid to defraud Chakalos’ $42million estate – built up through building and renting nursing homes
The indictment in Burlington, Vermont, also claims Carmen shot and killed his grandfather John Chakalos (right), 87, as he slept at home in Windsor, Connecticut, in 2013
In September 2016, Nathan Carman was found in an inflatable raft eight days after leaving a Rhode Island marina to go fishing with his mother, who was never found.
Prosecutors allege Carman killed his mother on the boat, which he had altered to make it more likely to sink that day. He has denied doing anything to intentionally make the boat unseaworthy.
Carman, who was arrested Tuesday, faces life in prison if convicted of killing his mother. His attorney did not return an email seeking comment.
Prosecutors allege the inheritance scheme that has spanned nearly a decade began with Carman buying a rifle in New Hampshire that he used to shoot Chakalos on December 20, 2013, while he slept.
He then discarded his computer hard drive and the GPS unit that had been in his truck, prosecutors said.
Police have said Carman was the last person to see his grandfather alive and owned a semi-automatic rifle similar to the one used to kill Chakalos – but the firearm disappeared.
After Chakalos’ death, Carman received $550,000 from two bank accounts that his grandfather had set up and that he was the beneficiary of when Chakalos died.
He moved from an apartment in Bloomfield, Connecticut, to Vernon, Vermont, in 2014.
He was unemployed much of the time, and by the fall of 2016 was low on funds when he hatched the scheme to kill his mother, prosecutors said.
Carman and his mom Linda frequently took fishing trips together (above) and prosecutors say he used it as a pretense to lure her to her death in 2016
Prosecutors allege Carman killed his mother on his boat, dubbed the Chicken Pox (above) which he had altered to make it more likely to sink that day
Carman takes off his life vest after he arrives at the Coast Guard base in Boston on September 27, 2016
In September 2016, Carman 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 reads. ‘He also planned how he would report the sinking of the ‘Chicken Pox’ and his mother’s disappearance at sea as accidents.’
Before the trip, Carman altered the boat by removing two forward bulkheads and trim tabs from the transom of the hull, the indictment states.
‘After leaving the marina, Nathan Carman killed his mother, Linda Carman, and eventually sank the Chicken Pox,’ it states.
Carman has for years been a suspect in his grandfather’s murder and his mother’s disappearance, but has insisted he is innocent of any crime.
It’s not clear from court documents what new evidence might have emerged to result in the federal charges unsealed on Tuesday.
In 2019, a federal judge in Rhode Island decided that Carman contributed to the sinking of the Chicken Pox.
U.S. District Judge John McConnell issued a written decision 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.
Carman, left, arrives with his lawyer, David Anderson, at US District Court for his federal civil trial in Providence in August 2019
Nathan Carman speaks to reporters outside district court after a 2018 probate hearing
Carman’s grandfather made his money building and selling nursing home properties
Carmen denied the allegations, telling the Coast Guard that when the boat filled quickly with water, he swam to the life raft and called for his mother but never saw her again.
He was found floating in the raft off the coast of Martha´s Vineyard, a Massachusetts island, by the crew of a freighter eight days after the boat was reported missing.
Chakalos, who was a real estate developer, left behind an estate that was worth nearly $29 million, which was to be divided among his four daughters.
Carman is in line to get about $7 million of the estate, as his mother’s only heir.
Chakalos’ three surviving daughters sued Carman in New Hampshire probate court, seeking to bar him from receiving any money from Chakalos´ estate.
A judge dismissed the case in 2019, saying Chakalos was not a New Hampshire resident. The probate case was refiled in Connecticut, where it remains pending.
William Michael, an attorney for Carman’s mother’s sisters, said Tuesday the family had no immediate comment.