WAUKEGAN, IL –
A suburban Chicago man who told his ex-wife “If I can’t have them, neither can you” pleaded guilty Friday, but he was mentally ill, to three counts of first-degree murder for killed their three young children, a prosecutor said.
Jason Karels, 36, of Round Lake Beach, will be sentenced to life in the Illinois Department of Corrections without the possibility of parole, Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said.
Karels admitted to drowning to the deaths of five-year-old Bryant Karels, three-year-old Cassidy Karels, and two-year-old Gideon Karels on June 13, 2022.
Agents sent to his home to check on the children’s well-being found a note for his ex-wife saying, “If I can’t have them, neither can you,” prosecutors said.
“This case has devastated the community of Round Lake Beach and beyond,” Rinehart said in a news release. “We hope that today’s resolution provides closure and we will continue to provide our support to the family.”
Several family members were in court for the hearing.
Karels was arrested after leading police on a pursuit that ended in a crash on an Interstate 80 bridge in Joliet, Round Lake Beach police said. Karels was briefly hospitalized after the accident.
After the crash, Karels told first responders that he was responsible for his children’s deaths and that he had attempted suicide before fleeing the home, police said. Officers found blood in the house from his attempts to harm himself.
Police said at the time of the deaths the parents shared custody of the children but did not live together.
A pre-sentence investigation has been ordered for Karels and a sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 16, 2024.