Grandfather murdered, mother lost at sea and a son facing scrutiny

By Rohan Smith of

Nathan Carman spent a week at sea. Police searched his Vermont home on Monday night. Photo / AP
Nathan Carman spent a week at sea. Police searched his Vermont home on Monday night. Photo / AP

Nathan Carman has experienced his fair share of loss.

The 22-year-old lost his favourite pet, the family horse, when he was 17. He was so distressed that he fled his mother's home in Connecticut without warning.

He was found more than 600km away by police involved in an extensive search. Officers said he was planning on travelling to Florida, more than twice the distance he'd already travelled.

Two years later, in 2013, his grandfather was killed execution style - a single gunshot wound to the back of the head.

Police ruled the death a homicide and, in July 2014, submitted an arrest warrant for the grandson. Local newspapers in Connecticut reported the warrant for Carman's arrest was returned unsigned and no charges were laid.

The murder remains unsolved.

Last week, Carman experienced loss again. His mother is missing after the pair met engine problems on a fishing trip off the coast of Massachusetts.

After a week at sea floating on an inflatable raft, Carman was located safe and well. He's home now, and grieving. There's still no sign of his mother Linda, 54, and police want answers.

Overnight, they executed a search warrant on the 22-year-old's home.


Nathan Carman disembarks at the US Coast Guard station in Boston on September 27, after a week at sea. Photo / AP
Nathan Carman disembarks at the US Coast Guard station in Boston on September 27, after a week at sea. Photo / AP

Carman and his mother set off for Martha's Vineyard, a small island not far from Cape Cod.

That's where things went wrong. According to Carman himself, the pair had cast their lines on Saturday, September 17, when water began flooding the 32-foot aluminium boat named Chicken Pox.

Carman says he heard a strange sound, grabbed everything he needed for an escape, and deployed a plastic life raft.

When he turned around, his mother was gone. He called to her without success. For a week he drifted further out to sea on the life raft. When the pair failed to return to shore, the US Coast Guard at Boston began a massive search and rescue operation.

On Saturday, September 25, Carmen drifted within sight of crew aboard freighter Orient Lucky, more than 160km from where his boat went under.

Once safe and dry, he was put in touch with the Coast Guard search and rescue controller Richard Arsenault. The pair's conversation went as follows.

Carman: "Hello, this is Nathan Carman."

Arsenault: "Nathan, this is United States Coast Guard, Boston ... I need to understand what happened. Over."

Carman: "Mum and I - two people - myself and my mum, were fishing and there was a funny noise in the engine compartment. I looked and saw a lot of water. I had my mum bring in the reel. I brought the safety stuff forward. I was bringing one of the safety bags forward (and) the boat just dropped out from under my feet. I saw the life raft. I did not see my mum - have you found her?"

Arsenault: "No, we haven't been able to find her yet."

Carman: "So, I got to the life raft after I got my bearings and I was whistling and calling and looking around and I didn't see her. It was a week ago today."


The search for Linda Carman has officially been called off. She is presumed dead and the Coast Guard has no plans to resume the search.

The rescue effort received significant media attention throughout the US so, naturally, reporters were keen to hear from Carman himself.

During a brief appearance before the press, he thanked Americans for their concern and asked for space.

"I would like to thank the public for their prayers and concern for both my mother and myself," he said.

"And I would like to thank the crew of the ship that rescued me, both for rescuing me and for treating me very well. I feel healthy (but) emotionally I've been through a huge amount.

"My request is that I just be left alone to mourn naturally."

His father, Clark, called an end to questions before the pair returned home.

"I'd rather not say anything more at this point. Between the two of us, it has been a very rough day," his father said.

NBC Connecticut reported on Tuesday that police had searched the Carman's Vermont home. Detectives attached to the Windham County Sheriff's office went through Carman's belongings about 8.30pm on Monday. Neighbours first reported seeing police arrive at the property.

It's believed they seized a modem, a SIM card and a letter written by the 22-year-old. It is not clear who the letter was intended for or what it contained.

Reporters shared details of the search warrant, including information suggesting police were suspicious of Carman's behaviour in the lead-up to his mother's disappearance and that he may have tampered with the boat before it sank.

According to police who investigated his disappearance in 2011, Carman has Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism.

The investigation into his grandfather's murder remains open. Police are offering a reward of $250,000 for information that could lead to an arrest.


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