Local News

Illinois Man Pleads Guilty to Murdering Three Children in Heartbreaking Custodial Tragedy

An Illinois man accused of drowning his three children during a custodial visit last year has entered a guilty plea to their murders.

Jason Karels, 36, pleaded guilty but mentally ill on Friday to three counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of his three children, ages 5, 3, and 2, according to a press release from the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Authorities stated that Karels drowned Bryant, 5, Cassidy, 3, and Gideon, 2, at his Round Lake Beach, Ill., home on June 13, 2022. Officers responding to the scene, alerted by the children’s mother, found a note from Karels that read, “If I can’t have them neither can you.”

Karels was apprehended later that evening near Joliet, Ill., after a 17-minute pursuit by Illinois State troopers, resulting in a crash near Interstate 80. The release noted that “While being removed from the car, Karels made statements to police officers regarding his role in the triple homicide.”

Round Lake Beach Police Chief Gilbert Rivera mentioned during a press conference at the time that “[Karels] also said he attempted to commit suicide several times after the deaths of the children.”

The mother, identified as Debra Karels, reported in 2022 that she and Jason were in the midst of a divorce due to his neglectful behavior. Debra discovered her children’s bodies when she went to pick them up after the weekend with her estranged husband.

Lake County Community Action initiated a GoFundMe campaign to support Debra following her children’s deaths, raising over $100,000 as of Monday.

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said in the release, “This case has devastated the Round Lake Beach community and beyond. We hope that today’s resolution provides some measure of closure, and we will continue to provide support to the family.”

As part of the plea, Karels will be sentenced to natural life in the Illinois Department of Corrections without the possibility of parole. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered, and a sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 16, 2024.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button