A 35-year-old man has been charged with murdering his three children, ages 2, 3, and 5, at his Round Lake Beach residence by drowning them, authorities announced.
Jason E. Karels, 35, of the 200 block of East Camden Lane in Round Lake Beach, was charged Tuesday with three counts of first-degree murder.
Round Lake Beach Police Chief Gilbert Rivera said during a press conference that officers responded to the 200 block of East Camden Lane in Round Lake Beach around 1:40 p.m. Monday for a well-being check.
A mother went to the residence to pick up her three children who were with their father for visitation for the weekend.
Rivera said the mother went into the home and found her three children dead in a bedroom.
Karels was missing and identified as a person of interest in the case. An alert was broadcasted to police departments across the Chicago area.
Illinois State Police spotted Karels’ red 2010 Nissan Maxima and attempted a traffic stop on him.
Karels refused to stop and led officers on a 17-minute high-speed pursuit where he crashed into a heavily wooded area on Interstate 80 near Water Street in Joliet.
Karels had to be extricated from the vehicle by firefighters.
Officers wearing bodycams captured Karels admitting to killing his three kids.
Rivera said that Karels had attempted suicide multiple times leading up to his arrest, including at the crime scene at his residence where investigators found a “significant amount” of blood that did not belong to his kids.
Karels remains hospitalized and is expected to be discharged into police custody soon.
Lake County Chief Deputy Coroner Steve Newton said preliminary autopsies on the three victims indicate they died from drowning.
Newton identified the children as Gideon Karels, age 2; Cassidy Karels, age 3; and Bryant Karels, age 5.
No other substantial injuries were evident on the children, Newton said. Toxicology results are pending.
Rivera said officers did not a history with Karels or the family. Investigators are also unaware of any mental illness history.
Rivera did not disclose an exact motive for the killings but called it a “domestic situation.”
“We are all touched by this. This is not something you go to and are unaffected by. What they [officers] saw yesterday is something no one should have to see,” Rivera said.
Lake County Board Member Dick Barr said Monday evening that the three children were “taken from this earth by unspeakable evil.”
“That unspeakable evil existed in the heart and mind of the man who so heinously took the lives of three of his own children,” Barr said.
“This was not a criminal act that is emblematic of who we are or where we live, rather a selfish soul, void of humanity, void of compassion, void of mental well being, who cared more about himself than he did about his own children,” Barr said.
“As heart broken as I am, I am equally angry. I’m angry that this coward is not dead while his innocent children are stacked up at the morgue and his estranged wife weeps with sorrow no human alive should ever have to endure,” he added.
Barr, a Round Lake Beach resident, said he started a GoFundMe account to help raise money for the mother of the children.
Karels is expected to appear in bond court “soon” after he is released from the hospital. Additional charges are possible against him.
The incident remains under investigation by the Round Lake Beach Police Department.