- (Photo: Screenshot via CNN)
A Connecticut man known for his massive holiday display of Christmas lights on his 82-acre property was found shot dead in his home late last week.
John Chakalos, 87, had become famous for decorating his large estate in Chesterfield, N.H., in 6 million Christmas lights every year for the holidays for the past 50 years. People reportedly travel from an hour away to view the elaborate decorations that include an entire Victorian village, Nativity scene, and a giant Santa. The Chakalos family allows visitors to drive through their estate to view the decorations as long as they donate money or food to the local Joan's Food Pantry.
Chakalos was reportedly found in his other home, located in Windsor, Conn., on Friday by one of his daughters. The man reportedly sustained a gunshot wound to the head, and police responded to a call regarding the man's death at 8:25 a.m Friday. Windsor police have opened a homicide case in response to Chakalos' death, based on how the body was positioned when it was found in the home and the fact that no weapon was recovered.
Windsor Police Capt. Tom LePore told the Brattleboro Reformer that investigators have all but ruled out suicide as the reason for Chakalos' death. "We have been investigating nonstop since then to unravel the story," LaPore added, referencing when police first responded to Chakalos' death on Friday.
The Brattleboro Reformer added that Chakalos was a wealthy investor in the area and had been mourning the death of his wife, Rita, who passed away due to cancer shortly before Thanksgiving this year. This year's light display at the family's Chesterfield estate in New Hampshire was reportedly dedicated to Rita, and there has been no mention of canceling the display in response to Chakalos' death. The estate saw a reported 693 vehicles visit on Saturday night and another 680 vehicles on Sunday.
According to FoxCT, the couple has been putting up their famous light display at their New Hampshire estate for the past 50 years, and people travel from as far as Vermont and Massachusetts to view the spectacular decorations. Joy Washburn, caretaker of the family's Chesterfield property, told CNN that she begins assembling the lights in August in preparation for the upcoming Christmas season.