John Chakalos and Linda Carman: Motive and Opportunity

This is Part Three of a three part series.

In October of 2016, about a month after he was plucked from a life raft after a week at sea, Nathan Carman walked into the private memorial service he’d organized to honor his mother, Linda Carman.

Linda had been on Nathan’s fishing boat when it sank, and though Nathan apparently survived the freak accident, Linda or her body were never recovered. Authorities deemed the amount of time and conditions out there in the open ocean beyond the point of survivability, and so she was presumed dead. As such, Nathan wanted to honor his mother.

Notably missing from the private service, though, were Linda Carman’s three sisters –  Valerie Santilli, Elaine Chakalos, and Charlene Gallagher. It was publicly obvious that something wasn’t right. The relationship between Nathan Carman and his aunts was not a good one.

Soon it would be abundantly clear how and what the aunts thought about their nephew. They believed he was a murderer driven by greed for the family fortune.

If you haven’t already, begin with parts 1 and 2 of this story. This is the final part of a three-part mini-series covering the cases of John Chakalos and Linda Carman on Dark Downeast.

Part 1: Murdered at Home and Missing at Sea

Part 2: Unseaworthy

Estate and Inheritance

According to a will filed in the probate division of New Hampshire’s 8th Circuit Court, the estate of John Chakalos was worth more than $42 million. It was left to his four daughters when he was killed by way of the Chakalos Family Dynasty Trust. This trust would distribute John’s assets to the individual trusts in each of his four daughter’s names. Among the financial assets were pieces of property that John owned, including his estate in West Chesterfield, New Hampshire. That home was intended to be left to Linda Carman.

Each of the Chakalos daughters had some control over beneficiaries of their trusts. Linda, with encouragement from her father before he was killed, named Nathan as the beneficiary of hers.

The probate court settlement meeting for the estate of John Chakalos was scheduled for the week following the disappearance of the Chicken Pox with Nathan and Linda aboard. If Linda was not present at the settlement meeting, the home once belonging to John Chakalos would likely be given to Nathan as he was the beneficiary of his mother’s trust. 

Various reports estimate the value of that home and property at $5 million. In total, probate court documents showed that Nathan Carman stood to inherit more than $7 million. That is, unless his aunts could do something to stop it. 

The sisters of Linda Carman were not about to let the person suspected of killing their father and having involvement in their sister Linda’s disappearance inherit millions of dollars. Without any formal charges filed against Nathan for the murder of John Chakalos though, the best recourse the sisters had was a civil court case known as a “Slayer Petition”. 

Aunts File Slayer Petition

According to Cornell Law, the a Slayer Petition or the Slayer Rule is part of trusts and estates law that says a murderer cannot claim the inheritence of a their victim. What’s interesting about the Slayer Rule is that the accused murderer does not have to be convicted of the crime to be disqualified from inheriting the property of the victim. A Slayer Petition asks a judge to declare the suspected or accused person as the killer before or without criminal proceedings to conclusively name that person the murderer. 

In the summer of 2017, as Nathan Carman’s legal battles for the insurance payout rolled on, his aunts Valerie, Elaine, and Charlene filed the petition with New Hampshire courts in an attempt to block him from inheriting some $7 million from the estate of John Chakalos. 

As reported by Dave Altimari for the Hartford Courant, The petition alleged that Nathan committed the “heinous act” of shooting and killing his grandfather in his Windsor, Connecticut home in 2013 out of “malice and greed”. 

The petition asked the court to name Nathan Carman as the murderer of John Chakalos and as having involvement with the disappearance of Linda Carman based on the evidence available, “The last person to see both of these family members alive was Nathan Carman, John’s grandson and Linda’s Son. The details and evidence in the death of John and the disappearance of Linda all point to Nathan as the prime suspect. Yet he now stands to inherit millions of dollars from their estates… His aunts seek to prevent that unjust result.”

The petition alleged that Nathan could not account for his whereabouts between midnight and 8 a.m. on the night his grandfather was killed and that Nathan and John argued about money before John’s murder. It stated that Nathan refused a polygraph test and that he purchased a rifle that used the same caliber bullets used to kill John Chakalos, among other claims.

When the petition was initially filed, Nathan was represented by the same attorney who represented him in the boat insurance case. But in September of 2017, Nathan filed paperwork notifying the court that he planned to represent himself against his aunts. Based on later developments in the ongoing suit, I can only assume this move had something to do with finances. Nathan did not have a job and money was presumably scarce – representing himself would’ve been a budget friendly decision. However, a few months later in November, Nathan did ultimately hire his same attorney, Hubert Santos, to support him in the Slayer Petition proceedings.

Attorney Santos responded to the lawsuit, asking the court to toss out the case altogether because New Hampshire was the wrong venue for the proceedings given that John Chakalos was not a legal resident of the state. He lived in Connecticut, and therefore the case had no grounds in New Hampshire despite John owning his massive mansion there. Additionally, Nathan denied in the petition that he could not account for his whereabouts on the night of his grandfather’s murder and denied that he ever argued with John about money. 

Nathan did not deny, however, that he refused a polygraph test. He said although he would not agree to take the lie detector test, he did agree to be interviewed by police. Nathan also did not deny purchasing a gun that matched the kind of ammunition used to kill John Chakalos. 

Press play for the third and final installment of this three part series on Dark Downeast.

Episode Source Material

Court Documents Referenced and Cited

  • Search Warrant Affidavit by Detective Christopher Iovene, Middletown Police Department and Detective Sergeant William Freeman, Windsor Police Department, July 18, 2014

  • Examination Under Oath of Nathan Carman, December 16, 2016

  • United States of American vs. Nathan Carman Indictment, May 2, 2022