Father pleads guilty to killing his 3 children last year in Round Lake Beach

A Round Lake Beach man is pleading guilty, but mentally ill, in the murders of his three young children last year.

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said Friday that 36-year-old Jason E. Karels agreed to plead guilty to the first-degree murder charges and spend the rest of his life in prison without possibility of parole. His formal sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 16, 2024.

“This case has devastated the Round Lake Beach community and beyond. We hope that today’s resolution provides some measure of closure, and we will continue to provide support to the family,” Rinehart said.

Karels was accused of drowning his children — Bryant, 5, Cassidy, 3, and Gideon, 2 — at a home on the 200 block of East Camden Lane in Round Lake Beach on June 13, 2022. Authorities said he left a note reading, “If I can’t have them neither can you,” for his estranged wife, who discovered her children’s bodies.

Karels was arrested later that evening in Joliet after a 17-minute pursuit. Arresting officers said Karels made incriminating statements about his involvement in the children’s deaths when he was taken into custody.

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