Illinois father charged with drowning three children
Marissa Parra & Shardaa Gray, WBBM
CHICAGO, Ill. (WBBM) — A Round Lake Beach man has been charged with three counts of murder after police say he confessed to drowning his three children on Monday.
Jason Karels appeared in court Wednesday.
Around 1:40 a.m. Monday, police responded to a home in the 200 block of East Camden Lane, after receiving a request for a well-being check from the children’s mother, who was supposed to pick them up from their estranged father, according to Round Lake Police Chief Gilbert Rivera.
When police entered the home, they found the three children – 5-year-old Bryant, 3-year-old Cassidy, and 2-year-old Gideon – dead inside.
“I cannot fathom the pain this family is going through right now,” Rivera said.
Rivera said the children were on a weekend visit with their father at the time, and their mother had been planning to pick them up for a doctor’s visit. The two parents shared custody of the children.
Neighbors said the family stayed to themselves, and didn’t really engage with others on the block, but they did see the kids walking to and from the school bus dropoff.
One neighbor said he saw the kids playing in the backyard this weekend.
Their father, Karels, was not at home when the bodies were found, but a few hours later, Illinois State Police spotted his car on Interstate 57 near 115th Street, and following a chase across multiple highways, Karels crashed in a wooded area along Interstate 80 near Water Street in Joliet.
As police and firefighters were pulling Karels, 35, from the wreck, he admitted he’d killed his children, and made multiple suicide attempts, but failed.
Autopsies found the preliminary cause of death for all three children was consistent with drowning, according to Lake County Coroner’s Office chief deputy Steve Newton.
Karels was taken to a hospital and has been charged with three counts of murder. Police said he could face additional charges, and is expected to appear in Lake County court after he is released from the hospital soon.
Police would not say if Karels provided a motive for killing his children. Rivera said investigators are not aware of any history of abuse of the children, or if Karels had any history of mental illness, or a criminal history.
“I don’t know if anything could have stopped this, or if there were any early indications of it. As I mentioned, we were not familiar with this family nor with the house, but I can tell you we’re all deeply affected,” Rivera said.
A mother and two daughters who used to live in the neighborhood dropped off a teddy bear on Tuesday outside of the house after hearing what happened in their former neighborhood.
“It’s a shame to hear such a tragic situation that occurred here. It’s very sad,” Mary Santana said.
Newton said investigators are awaiting the results of toxicological tests to determine if the children were drugged before they were drowned, but he said there were no other signs of injuries on the children.