Ill. Dad Allegedly Drowned 3 Young Children During Custodial Visit: 'Cannot Fathom the Pain'

Jason Karels has been charged with three counts of murder, and his bond has been set at $10 million

5-year-old Bryant, 3-year-old Cassidy and 2-year-old Gideon Karels
Photo: GoFundMe

An Illinois man has been accused of drowning his three children during a custodial visit on Monday, according to police.

Shortly before 1:30 p.m., Round Lake Beach Police responded to a call for a welfare check and discovered the bodies of Bryant, 5, Cassidy, 3, and 2-year-old Gideon, police said.

Jason Karels, the kids' father, was missing from his home along with his red Nissan Maxima. As police investigated inside the home, authorities spotted the car along I-57 and pursued him in a high-speed chase for 17 minutes, which ended when Karels crashed his vehicle.

"After the crash, Karels made statements to police officers involved in the chase and wearing body-worn cameras indicating he was responsible for the deaths of the children at the Round Lake Beach home," Round Lake Beach Police Chief Gilbert Rivera said during a press conference.

"He also said he attempted to commit suicide several times after the deaths of the children," Rivera said.

Jason Karels
Round Lake Beach Police

Karels was taken to a hospital to treat his injuries and transferred to Lake County Jail the following day. He was charged with three counts of murder and is being held on $10 million bond, officials said.

It was not immediately clear if he had entered a plea or retained an attorney.

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Preliminary autopsies of the children indicated they died from drowning. Police have not discussed a possible motive.

"I cannot fathom the pain this family is going through right now," Rivera said.

Lake County Board member Dick Barr created a GoFundMe for the childrens' mother, Debbie, who was estranged from her husband at the time of the deaths. She was on her way to pick up her children, officials said.

"[T]his fundraiser is to provide some monetary relief to handle the final arrangements for their mother as she endures the most unspeakable horror imaginable," Barr wrote.

After reaching the original goal, Barr increased the amount to $100,000.

"We started discussing things like she won't be able to go back to work for some time, and all of her worldly possessions are in his name. She has no house, no car, she has to file for divorce," Barr wrote. "[W]e have decided to increase our goal to provide a higher level of support so Debbie can deal with the tragedy while not worrying about surviving financially."

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