ROUND LAKE BEACH, Ill. (WLS) -- Days before Father's Day, a crime left even seasoned law enforcement shaken is now prompting community members to step up.
Round Lake Beach police said Tuesday that a man has been charged in the deaths of his three children. Found by their mom, 5-year-old Bryant, 3-year-old Cassidy and 2-year-old Gideon Karels can be seen in a photo from a GoFundMe page.
Police said a 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 200-block of E. Camden Lane in the Sutton-on-the-Lake subdivision. When police arrived, they found the three children, who were identified by the Lake County Coroner's Office. The coroner's office said preliminary autopsies indicate they died from drowning.
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?'"
Police on the scene discovered the father, Jason Karels, 35, was missing along with his car, a red Nissan Maxima. Illinois State Police later found the vehicle on I-57 at 115th Street and started a high-speed chase which would end in a crash in a wooded area off of I-80 in Joliet. Police said Karels was taken into custody and told officers he was responsible for the deaths.
"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. "He also said he attempted to commit suicide several times after the deaths of the children but was unsuccessful during these attempts."
Police declined to give a motive, but said Karels and the children's mother were estranged and may have been sharing custody of the kids.
"I don't know that anything could've stopped this or if there were any early indications of it," Chief Rivera said. "As I mentioned, we were not familiar with this family nor with the house."
After being hospitalized, Karels, who has been charged with three counts of murder, has been transported to the Lake County Jail and is expected to appear in Lake County Bond Court Wednesday morning.