Round Lake Beach man sentenced to life in prison without parole for ‘brutal, evil and sinister’ murders of his three children

A Round Lake Beach man was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole after entering a guilty but mentally ill plea Dec. 15 in the killings of his three children aged 2, 3 and 5.

Jason Karels, 36, was accused of drowning his children, Bryant, 5, Cassidy, 3, and Gideon, 2, at a Round Lake Beach home 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 the bodies. The actions were described in court as being “brutal, evil and sinister” and Karels as a monster who destroyed lives.

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said in December Karels agreed to plead guilty to the first-degree murder charges and spend the rest of his life in prison without possibility of parole. Friday was the formal sentencing.

“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 at the time.

At the hearing Friday, Judge James Booras considered victim-impact statements written by the children’s mother, maternal grandmother and aunt read in open court.

In the statements, the children were described as beautiful and innocent who did not deserve what happened to them, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

Family members said Karels was the one person who was supposed to love and protect them at all costs but did the complete opposite and was a “monster” who destroyed many lives, according to a news release from the state’s attorney’s office.

The statements also said the loss of the children was like a “light lost” leaving darkness in their lives and a wound that will never heal, according to the release.

Eric Kalata, chief of the domestic violence division, argued in court that the life sentence was “absolutely necessary and appropriate.” He described Karels’ actions as “brutal, evil, and sinister.” Karels caused panic, fear and absolute terror in the children's final moments, using them as pawns in a scheme of revenge, according to the state's attorney's office.

Booras described Karels’ actions as “sickening” and “despicable” before accepting the negotiated sentencing, the release said.

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