On Monday, Nathan Carmen, 22, was rescued 115 nautical miles from Martha’s Vineyard in the Atlantic Ocean by the Chinese freighter Lucky Orient. He had spent eight days in a life raft after his 32′ center cockpit aluminum boat sank suddenly while on a fishing trip. His mother, Linda Carman, 54, who was also on the boat when it sank, is presumed to have drowned.
On September 17th, Nathan and his mother set off from the Ram Point marina in Point Judith, RI on a fishing trip in a boat named Chicken Pox. He said that they were fishing for tuna roughly 100 miles offshore in the area known as Block Canyon. He said he heard a strange noise in the engine compartment and saw water in the boat, which sank quickly. He managed to get into the life raft, whereas his mother did not. There was no distress call. When the mother and son were reported missing, the Coast Guard began a search covering some 60,000 square miles but found nothing and gave up after six days. Two days later, Nathan Carmen’s raft was spotted by the Lucky Orient.
Up to this point, the story sounds like just another needless tragedy on the water. But, it takes a strange turn. As soon as Nathan Carmen was rescued, South Kingstown, Rhode Island police searched Carmen’s home in Vernon, Vermont. The warrant, which authorized the search, indicated that authorities were looking for evidence of reckless endangerment. The police are reported to have seized a modem, a Garman SIM card, and a letter written by Nathan, in the search of the house.
As reported by CBS Boston: South Kingstown police … search warrant indicates authorities think Carman was handling some repairs on the motor of his boat, the Chicken Pox, himself, and that the vessel might not have been seaworthy, which could support a reckless endangerment charge….
A police affidavit issued to obtain the search warrant also “indicates that Linda and Nathan had different intentions as to the final destination of the fishing trip.”
Linda Carman, it states, thought they were going 20 miles off shore. Nathan, according to people he spoke with before he left, had other plans to take them roughly 100 miles out.
“I thought he said the canyons which are off Block Island,” Mike Iozzi, who struck up a casual conversation with Nathan hours before he left the dock, told WBZ-TV. “I didn’t see him with fishing poles. I didn’t even see him with food.”
Linda Carman had told her close friend that she and her son would take the boat out toward Block Island for an overnight fishing trip.
Two and a half years ago, Nathan Carman had been the primary “person of interest” in the murder of of his 87-year-old maternal grandfather, John Chakalos. Nathan was the last person to see his grandfather alive and had also just purchased a gun matching the caliber of the murder weapon. He also discarded a hard drive and GPS used around the time of the shooting. The police sought an arrest warrant but were turned down by prosecutors, who asked for more evidence. Nathan Carman was not charged and the case remains unsolved. Nathan’s mother, Linda Carman, inherited more than $20 million dollars from her father. Some have speculated that her death might be related to the inheritance.
Reportedly, Nathan Carman, who has Asperger’s, had a troubled youth. From CBS, Boston: In the course of investigating the killing, authorities said in the search warrant that they learned from family members that Carman had a history of violence as a child, including one incident in which he allegedly held another child “hostage” with a knife. The documents also said Carman had several alarming episodes while he was a high school student, although no details of those incidents were given.
On Nathan Carman’s part, he says that the suspicion surrounding his account of his mother’s death is only compounding his grief.
“What happened on the boat was a terrible tragedy that I am still trying to process and that I am still trying to come to terms with,” he said. “I don’t know what to make of people being suspicious,” he added. “I have enough to deal with.”
He also denied having anything to do with his grandfather’s murder. “My grandfather was like a father to me, and I was like a son to him,” Carman told the AP. “He was the closest person in the world to me, and I loved him and he loved me, and I had absolutely nothing to do with his death.”