Round Lake Beach murders: Father accused of drowning his 3 children pleads not guilty

Karels allegedly made statements to police officers regarding his role in the death of his three children, officials say

ByEric Horng and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team via WLS logo
Thursday, July 14, 2022
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Jason Karels is charged with nine counts of first-degree murder after his three young children were found dead in a Round Lake Beach home in June.

ROUND LAKE BEACH, Ill. (WLS) -- A Round Lake Beach father accused of murdering his three children pled not guilty Thursday, according to the Lake County (IL) State's Attorney's Office.

Jason Karels, 35, was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday on nine counts of first-degree murder. Chief of the Felony Division of the Lake County State's Attorney's Office, Jeff Facklam, said he has charged Karels with three different counts for each of the children he is accused of killing.

Round Lake Police Officers responded to a 911 call at 200 East Camden Lane in Round Lake Beach on June 13 after the mother of the victims discovered the children's bodies.

Police said the mother, who was supposed to pick up her three children from her estranged husband, contacted them around 1:40 p.m. to perform a well-being check inside a home in the Sutton-on-the-Lake subdivision.

When police arrived, they found three children dead inside the home. The Lake County (IL) Coroner's Office later determined the cause of death to be drowning.

Officers on scene said they found a note allegedly from Karels that said, "If I can't have them, neither can you."

RELATED: Mother of 3 kids killed in Round Lake Beach home speaks out, 'My children were amazing'

Karels was arrested later that day near Joliet, following a 17-minute pursuit by Illinois State Police, before he ultimately crashed his vehicle near Interstate 80 and Water Street, according to officials.

While being removed from the car, Karels made statements to police officers regarding his role in the death of his three children, 5-year-old Bryant, 3-year-old Cassidy and 2-year-old Gideon Karels, officials 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," Round Lake Beach Police Chief Gilbert Rivera said following Karels' arrest. "He also said he attempted to commit suicide several times after the deaths of the children but was unsuccessful during these attempts."

"This is a devastating case for our community, and we are resolved to achieve justice for these three innocent children," State's Attorney Eric Rinehart said in past statements.

Karels is being held at the Lake County Jail without the possibility of cash bond.

"In addition to filing these charges and placing significant resources into preparing for trial, we have also had extensive meetings with the family to let them know our office supports them and will be with them throughout the process," Rinehart added after Thursday's arraignment.

Kerals is set to appear back in court on October 7 for a case management conference.

Lake County Board Member Dick Barr set up a GoFundMe for the mother.