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Man Pleads Not Guilty to Murder on the High Seas in Alleged Inheritance Scheme

Nathan Carman, the man accused of fatally shooting his grandfather in 2013 and killing his mother in 2016 on a fishing trip, has pleaded not guilty to charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, and murder on the high seas. In his first court appearance on Wednesday in Vermont District Court, the judge also said the 28-year-old would be held at least until his detention hearing, scheduled for Monday. 

On Wednesday, prosecutors also filed a motion for detention, saying Carman posed a flight risk and revealing details about his behaviors, past and present. Prosecutors claim that he had “evaded detection by aerial reconnisance teams” during the time he was on the boat trip where he allegedly murdered his mother. Furthermore, when he was a teenager, Carman allegedly ran away from his family’s Connecticut home and was later found in Virginia. Authorities also say they found $10,000 in cash in his Vermont home with a search warrant, “enough to fund his flight.”

The motion for detention says Carman does not seem to have “any meaningful community ties,” despite living in Vermont since 2014. It describes him as a social isolate who has struggled with mental health from a young age. “He has limited human connections and little personal interaction with other people,” prosecutors allege. “His conduct severed his ties with his remaining family. He lives alone, has no children or significant other, and has been unemployed for years.” 

The motion says he was treated for “mental health issues” from the time he was a young child until he was 17, including receiving medication to manage anger. After 17, he “avoided” further treatment, the motion states. Prosecutors say mental health evaluators worried about his hostility and aggression when he was a kid; authorities recommend he undergo a mental health evaluation in prison.

Carman was arrested May 10 after a multi-year investigation. According to a grand jury indictment unsealed Tuesday, Carman killed his mother, Linda, in September 2016 on a fishing trip off the coast of Rhode Island. The indictment alleges Carman removed parts of the boat before their trip, and took his computer from his home to keep authorities from reviewing its contents. Authorities don’t say how they believe Carman killed his mother, but say that he intentionally sank his boat called the Chicken Pox, before being found floating on an inflatable raft eight days after he and his mother had left on the trip. Carman is accused of making false statements to the Coast Guard about what had happened to his mother and his boat. He is also accused of attempting to defraud the boat’s insurer.

One of the eight counts in the indictment is related to the murder of his mother. The other seven are in connection with trying to get money from his grandfather’s estate or from insurance companies.

Prior to his mother’s death, Carman was also accused of murdering his grandfather in 2013 while he slept in his home in Windsor, CT, using a sig sauer rifle. Carman is not charged with his grandfather’s murder in the indictment, however. According to a filing from a 2017 lawsuit filed by three of Carman’s aunts accusing him in his grandfather’s death and attempting to block him from getting inheritance money, Carman’s grandfather, John Chakalos, was found dead in his bedroom on December 20, 2013, with gunshot wounds to his head and chest. That lawsuit was dismissed in 2019 when a judge in New Hampshire decided Chakalos was a resident of Connecticut, despite having built his palatial “dream home” in New Hampshire, filings show. There is no pending action between Linda’s sisters and Carman at this time. Through a lawyer for the estate, the family declined to comment.

According to the indictment, Chakalos made “tens of millions of dollars” in the real estate ventures, including the building and renting of nursing homes. Authorities allege Carman immediately got $550,000 following his grandfather’s death, moved to Vermont, and quickly spent all the money. “Carman spent much of this money between 2014 and 2016, during most of which he was unemployed,” the indictment says. “By the fall of 2016, he was low on funds.” That’s when he decided to kill his mother, the indictment claims, with him he had “a strained relationship.”

Carman is being represented by a federal defense attorney, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He faces life in prison, if convicted.

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