A Vermont man found floating on a raft off the coast of Martha's Vineyard in 2016 after his boat sank appeared in court Wednesday for allegedly killing his mother at sea to inherit the family’s estate.
Nathan Carman was arrested Tuesday on an eight-count indictment including murder on the high seas, according to officials at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Vermont. The document also charges Carman with an inheritance fraud scheme involving the deadly shooting of his grandfather in 2013 in Windsor, Connecticut.
Carman pleaded not guilty and was held pending a federal court hearing Monday. As he arrived to the building in Rutland, Vermont, he yelled “not guilty” in response to reporters’ questions about his family members’ deaths.
Citing mental health records, federal prosecutors said that Carman had severe psychiatric issues that hadn't been treated for a decade or more, arguing that public safety could not be assured if he were released because, they said, Carman has killed before and could again. They said he should be further evaluated.
Carman was also a risk of flight because he has no real connections to the community besides owning property in Vermont, prosecutors said -- he used to live in Connecticut.
Both killings are allegedly part of a scheme to obtain money from Carman's grandfather. Carman, a 28-year-old who has been living in Vernon, Vermont, faces life imprisonment if he's convicted of the murder on the high seas charge, and each fraud charge carries up to 30 years in prison.
Relatives have previously accused Carman of killing his mother, Linda Carman, and his grandfather, John Chakalos, a wealthy real estate developer, in a scheme to inherit $7 million that Chakalos had left to Linda Carman.
Nathan and Linda Carman were on the son's fishing boat, The Chicken Pox, for a fishing trip when it sank in 2016, leaving Carmen's mother, Linda Carman, missing and presumed dead. Nathan Carman was found floating on a raft off the coast of Rhode Island eight days later.
William Michael, an attorney for Carman's mother's sisters, said Tuesday the family had no immediate comment.
In 2019, a federal judge in Rhode Island decided that Carman contributed to the 2016 sinking of the boat from which his mother was lost at sea.
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 fishing boat.
More on the Nathan Carman Case
Carman denied doing anything to intentionally make the boat unseaworthy. He told 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.
The judge found, among other things, that shortly before the fishing trip with his mother, Carman made improper repairs to the boat. Witnesses testified that 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.
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.
Nathan Carman had been named by police as a "person of interest" in the killing of Chakalos, who was shot in the head at his home in 2013. No criminal charges were filed against him in connection with his grandfather's death.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.