Who is Jason Karels? Man kills his 3 children, caught by cops after high-speed chase
CHICAGO: Jason Karels, a 35-year-old man, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder after his three children were found dead on Monday, June 13, at his Round Lake Beach house. Around 1:40 pm Monday, police responded to the home in the 200 block of East Camden Lane, after receiving a request for a well-being check from the children's mother, who had come to pick them up from her estranged husband, according to Round Lake Police Chief Gilbert Rivera.
When police arrived, they found the three children -- 5-year-old Bryant, 3-year-old Cassidy, and 2-year-old Gideon, dead inside the house; the children were identified by the Lake County Coroner's Office. The coroner's office chief deputy Steve Newton said preliminary autopsies indicated they died from drowning. "I cannot fathom the pain this family is going through right now," police chief 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.
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Karels was not at the home when police arrived, and officers put out an alert for his vehicle. The vehicle was spotted on Interstate 57 near 115th Street, and when police attempted to stop the car, Karels allegedly fled at high speed. The vehicle ultimately crashed near Water Street on Interstate 80 in Joliet, and Karels was pulled from the vehicle and was taken to an area hospital, police said. Karels was apprehended after a 17-minute high-speed chase, police said.
"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," chief Rivera said. "He also said he attempted to commit suicide several times after the deaths of the children but was unsuccessful during these attempts."
The motive behind the murder is not clear yet. "I don't know that anything could've stopped this or if there were any early indications of it," Rivera said. "As I mentioned, we were not familiar with this family nor with the house." According to Karels' neighbors, 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.
Police said Karels could face additional charges and is expected to appear in Lake County court after he is released from the hospital soon. 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. Karels has been transported to the Lake County Jail and is expected to appear in Lake County Bond Court Wednesday morning.
Lake County Board Member Dick Barr set up a GoFundMe for the mother. "She wants people to know who they were, and she wants people to remember them," Barr said. "I'm gonna tell you, we're getting hundreds of emails from people saying 'what else can we do?'"