Dad drowned his 3 kids in Round Lake Beach, then left note for wife: ‘If I can’t have them neither can you,’ prosecutors say

The children, ages 2 to 5, were visiting their father for the weekend when he drowned them one by one in a bathtub before trying to kill himself, then leading police on a chase across the Chicago area, Lake County prosecutors said.

SHARE Dad drowned his 3 kids in Round Lake Beach, then left note for wife: ‘If I can’t have them neither can you,’ prosecutors say
Bryant Karels, 5, Cassidy Karels, 3, and Gideon Karels, 2.

Bryant Karels, 5, Cassidy Karels, 3, and Gideon Karels, 2.


An estranged father drowned his three young children in a bathtub while they visited his Round Lake Beach home over the weekend, then left a note for his wife that said, “If I can’t have them neither can you,” Lake County prosecutors said in court Wednesday.

Jason Karels — charged with murdering his three children, ages 2, 3 and 5 — then tried to kill himself before leading police on a chase across the Chicago area Monday, prosecutors said.

He crashed into a wooded area in Joliet and confessed to drowning the children one by one after their mother had dropped them off for the weekend, prosecutors said.

A Lake County judge ordered Karels held on $10 million bail Wednesday.

Earlier Monday afternoon, the mother came to pick up the children for a doctor’s appointment but no one answered, Police Chief Gilbert Rivera told reporters Tuesday.

She called for officers, who entered the home in the 200 block of Camden Lane and found her three children dead in a bedroom.

The children — Bryant Karels, 5, Cassidy Karels, 3, and Gideon Karels, 2 — died from drowning, according to preliminary autopsy results.

Police had never been called to the Karels home before, Rivera said.

“I don’t know if anything could have stopped this or if there were any early indications of it,” Rivera said.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Service had no previous contact with the family, an agency spokesman said Wednesday.

Jason Karels, 35, was missing from the home when officers arrived, and police issued an alert for his missing vehicle, Rivera said.

Illinois State Police troopers spotted his vehicle and tried to stop him on Interstate 57 and 115th Street in Chicago, but Karels fled and led authorities on a 17-minute high-speed chase before crashing in Joliet and confessing, police said.

After killing his children, Jason Karels tried to kill himself several times inside the home but was unsuccessful, Rivera said. His blood was allegedly found inside the home.

Karels was briefly hospitalized, then charged with three counts of first-degree murder.

Rivera said the murders were an isolated incident that appeared to be “motivated by a domestic situation.” Rivera was unable to detail any possible ongoing custody battle, or the state of the parents’ relationship besides that they were “estranged.”

The father has no known criminal history, or history of drug use or mental illness, Rivera said.

Lake County Board member Dick Barr set up an online fundraiser to help the children’s mother “move on with her life in the wake of this terrible tragedy.”

The family had moved to the Round Lake Beach home five years ago, Rivera said.

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