Valley nursing home developer John Chakalos slain in Connecticut (with video)

Last modified: Thursday, January 02, 2014
NORTHAMPTON — Connecticut authorities continue to investigate the homicide of a well-known nursing home developer whose assisted-living facilities dot the Pioneer Valley, including one now under construction in Northampton.

John C. Chakalos, 87, of Windsor, Conn. was found dead in his home on Overlook Drive in that town by a family member the morning of Dec. 20. A state medical examiner ruled that Chakalos had died from a gunshot wound to the head and the case was ruled a homicide. No gun was found at the scene.

“We have many investigators working on it, going over every aspect of Mr. Chakalos’ life at this point,” Windsor Police Capt. Tom LePore told the Gazette Tuesday. “We’re not going to leave any or many stones unturned or any possible motives. There’s a lot of stuff to go over, as you can imagine.”

Chakalos developed Linda Manor Extended Care Facility in Leeds in 1989 and later Sunbridge Care & Rehabilitation for Hadley at Elaine Manor in Hadley. He owns nursing homes elsewhere in Connecticut and Massachusetts, including Charlene Manor Extended Care Facility in Greenfield.

Last year, he received approval in Northampton to build the Zoe Life Retirement Community just south of Linda Manor off Haydenville Road. The 90-bed assisted living facility is under construction and expected to cost from $10 million to $15 million. The nursing homes were named after Chakalos’ family members, including a granddaughter, according to those who knew him.

“He left an impact in the area and was known for a lot of good projects,” Northampton Realtor Patrick M. Goggins said.

Goggins had worked closely with Chakalos at Bear Hill Estates off Bridge Road in Northampton, a 42-unit luxury townhouse condominium development in which Chakalos was a co-developer. Goggins said he was struck by the elderly man’s energy and work ethic.

“He was a dynamic, hard-working, larger-than-life figure who was at it every day,” Goggins said. “He had a very strong work ethic and approached everything he did with an energy and enthusiasm that would belie his 87 years.”

Authorities say Chakalos worked out of a home office at his Windsor home. His wife, Rita, died of cancer a week before Thanksgiving. The pair were well-known in Chesterfield, N.H., where they put on an elaborate holiday lights display at an 80-plus-acre estate they owned. The couple let the public drive through the display in December, asking only for donations to a local food pantry in return. The donations from the display have typically been enough to keep the pantry’s shelves filled from January through April, CNN reported last week.

“It was pretty philanthropic from what I understood,” said LePore, of the Windsor Police Department.

LePore said Windsor police are working closely with Connecticut State Police and the Hartford state’s attorney’s office on the case. Anyone with information related to the case should contact Windsor Police Sgt. Bill Freeman at 860-688-5273 ext. 571.

Dan Crowley can be reached at dcrowley@gazettenet.com.