Vermont Trust-Fund Kid Accused of Killing Mom at Sea Dies Awaiting Trial

Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty
Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty

Nathan Carman, the Vermont man accused of slaying his mom and dumping her body in the Atlantic during a 2016 fishing trip, died on Thursday, federal prosecutors announced.

Carman, 29, was slated to go to trial in October on murder and fraud charges surrounding the death of his mom, Linda Carman, who prosecutors say Carman killed in order to boost his share of the family’s multi-million dollar estate. He was being held without bail at the time of his death, and his cause of death wasn’t immediately released.

“The United States received information from the U.S. Marshal that Carman died on or about June 15, 2023,” a filing from federal prosecutors said. “Dismissal of the charges against Carman is thus appropriate.”

Martin J. Minnella, an attorney representing Carman, told VTDigger that his client’s death was a “tragedy” and that he’s “numb.” He said he had no details on the nature of the death.

Minnella added that Carman was being held at a jail in Keene, New Hampshire, and was in “good spirits” about his upcoming trial as recently as Wednesday night. Minnella did not respond to an interview request.

Bill Michael, an attorney representing Linda Carman’s sisters, told The Daily Beast in a phone call Thursday that Nathan Carman’s death was shocking.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of Nathan’s death this morning,” Michael said. “While we process this shocking news and its impact on the tragic events surrounding the last several years, we ask for your understanding and respect relative to our privacy.”

Carman’s death puts a cap on a shocking string of family fatalities, which also included the 2013 fatal shooting of Carman’s wealthy grandfather, 87-year-old John Chakalos. Carman was not charged with Chakalos’ murder but the indictment he was facing accused him of killing both Chakalos and Linda as “part of a scheme to obtain money and property from the estate of John Chakalos and related family trusts.”

He’s Either the World’s Unluckiest Man or a Murderer

Carman’s family was as wealthy as it was estranged. Those close to the family said Carman, his mother, and Chakalos had a rocky relationship, and rumors swirled that the two murders may have been a ploy by Carman to receive a chunk of Chakalos’ $44 million estate.

After she was arrested in May 2011 for allegedly assaulting Chakalos in a psychiatric hospital, Linda reportedly told police, “My father is worth $300 million and I want my share. He’s not going to cut me off. I need money.”

Soon after, Carman, then 17, ran away from home after the death of his horse, Cruise. He was discovered days later in Virginia, holding framed photos of himself with Cruise and carrying $4,000 in cash. He said he was planning on reaching Florida, cops said.

Familial dysfunction continued in the years after Chakalos and Linda’s deaths. In 2017, three of Carman’s aunts filed a lawsuit to stop him from inheriting millions of dollars from his slain family members’ estates.

“Nathan committed this heinous act out of malice and greed,” the sisters claimed in a court filing.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Carman pictured arriving at court for a federal civil trial in 2019. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Nic Antaya for The Boston Globe via Getty</div>

Carman pictured arriving at court for a federal civil trial in 2019.

Nic Antaya for The Boston Globe via Getty

Carman repeatedly denied any involvement in the deaths of his mom and grandfather. After allegedly sinking his own boat and claiming to survive on a raft for seven days at sea, Carman was reportedly enraged that people weren’t joyous to see him return to land alive.

“I was lost at sea, my mom died,” the then 24-year-old said in a 2017 interview with ABC’s 20/20. “What would be great, to have people embracing you saying we are glad you are home, we are glad you are alive, and also helping me to deal with my mom's death. It hasn’t been that.”

Court filings detailed a troubled history for Carman, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and had an “inherently introverted personality.” His parents divorced when he was 4 years old, and he was raised by Linda, who said her son became prone to tantrums and outbursts.

“He was bullied relentlessly and viciously in school,” his attorneys wrote in an unsuccessful motion for pretrial release. “He had few, if any, friends.”

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>A billboard in Hartford, Connecticut, offering a reward for information on the death of John Chakalos.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Patrick Raycraft/Tribune News Service via Getty</div>

A billboard in Hartford, Connecticut, offering a reward for information on the death of John Chakalos.

Patrick Raycraft/Tribune News Service via Getty

That filing detailed how Carman’s life after high school was propped up by family money. His attorneys said Chakalos paid for Carman to move into a luxury apartment, bought him a truck, and authorized him to use a credit card with a $5,000 limit, which was paid off monthly.

That financial backing vanished the moment Chakalos was killed, however, sparking a “tumultuous” turn in Carman’s life, according to his lawyers.

“Between unresolved emotions resulting from the divorce of his parents, the death of his beloved horse, family history of mental health struggles, and an overall difficult and opinionated family, Mr. Carman had a tumultuous year following Cruise’s death,” the motion said.

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