South Kingstown police working with feds on boater’s disappearance

Nathan and Linda Carman

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Police continue searching for answers in the disappearance of a Connecticut woman whose boat apparently sank while on a fishing trip with her son.

Linda Carman, 54, and her son Nathan, 22, were reported missing Sept. 18 after setting out from Ram’s Point Marina in Point Judith the previous day.

After more than a week lost at sea, Nathan was found alive in a four-person life raft by a passing freighter about 100 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.

His mother and the 32-foot vessel have not been recovered. The Coast Guard has ended their search, saying the “survivability window” has passed.

On Thursday, South Kingstown police announced they’re investigating the facts and circumstances surrounding Linda Carman’s disappearance in conjunction with federal and state law enforcement agencies in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont.

The Target 12 Investigators have learned the agencies involved will meet Monday at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. to discuss the case. A representative from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Rhode Island will also be in attendance.

The U.S. Coast Guard released recordings of phone calls between Nathan Carman and officers shortly after he was rescued by the freighter. During one of those exchanges, he asked investigators, “When I saw the life raft, I did not see my Mom. Have you found her?”

He said the boat, the “Chicken Pox,” started taking on water quickly, then he heard a funny noise in the boat’s engine compartment and he scrambled to get on the inflated life raft. Carman said he whistled and called out for his mother, but did not see her.

Watch: Nathan Carman talks to reporters at his Vermont home »
Watch: Nathan Carman talks to reporters at his Vermont home »

Carman was subjected to further questioning after he returned to shore on Tuesday.

That same day, police in Vermont searched his Vernon home on behalf of South Kingstown police.

The search warrant – obtained by CBS affiliate WCAX in Vermont – stated police are trying to determine where exactly Carman was planning on taking his mother fishing.

“The investigation revealed that Nathan’s boat was in need of mechanical repair and that Nathan had been conducting a portion of these repairs upon his own volition which could have potentially rendered his boat unsafe for operation,” Det. Alfred Bucco wrote in the affidavit for the search warrant. “The investigation has also revealed that Nathan had intended to go fishing farther off-shore in a different location than what were his mother’s intentions and understanding.”

South Kingstown Police Chief Vince Vespia confirmed for Target 12 they are conducting an investigation to determine if a crime had been committed.

“Some of the aspects of the report of their [disappearance] is confusing to us, and we want to clarify that,” Vespia said. “We have also been in touch with Connecticut authorities who are conducting a separate investigation into Carman’s grandfather’s death; we’re working in conjunction with them.”

Carman’s grandfather, 87-year-old John Chakalos, was found shot to death at his home in Windsor, Conn. nearly three years ago. Court documents indicate Nathan came under suspicion in the killing as he had a history of violence as a child and he was the last known person to have seen Chakalos alive.

A 2014 search warrant obtained by The Associated Press said that Carman had dinner with his grandfather the night before; that Carman had bought a rifle consistent with the one used in the crime; and that he discarded his hard drive and GPS unit used around the time of the shooting.

Nathan Carman was never charged in the slaying. Police on Wednesday said the case is still open and that Carman remains a person of interest.

Carman also hasn’t been charged in connection with his mother’s disappearance. His attorney, Hubert Santos, said his client is fully cooperating with the Coast Guard and called Linda Carman’s death a “tragic accident.”

Family members have said Carman has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism that can be characterized by social awkwardness and repetitive behavior. Experts say people with Asperger’s are no more likely than others to commit violent crimes.

Outside his Vermont home Tuesday, Carman said he had been through “a huge amount” emotionally, and he thanked the public for its concern and prayers.