Round Lake Beach, Illinois – In a disturbing case that has shocked the community, Jason Karels, a 36-year-old man, pleaded guilty but mentally ill to three counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of his three children. The victims, aged 5, 3, and 2, were drowned by their father during a custodial visit at his home on June 13, 2022. Karels was apprehended after a police pursuit and later admitted his role in the triple homicide.
The tragic incident unfolded when the children’s mother, Debra Karels, went to pick them up after spending the weekend with their father. She discovered the lifeless bodies of her children on a bed. Authorities found a chilling note left by Karels, stating, “If I can’t have them, neither can you.” Their divorce proceedings were reportedly underway due to Karels’ neglectful behavior and constant manipulation.
The Round Lake Beach community has been devastated by this unimaginable loss. To support Debra Karels during this difficult time, Lake County Community Action launched a GoFundMe campaign, which has raised over $100,000 as of Monday.
“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,” stated Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart.
As part of his guilty plea, Karels faces a sentence of natural life in the Illinois Department of Corrections without the possibility of parole. A pre-sentence investigation has been ordered, and the sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 16, 2024.
This heartbreaking case serves as a grim reminder of the importance of recognizing and addressing mental health issues to prevent such tragic outcomes. The community remains united in offering support for Debra Karels as she rebuilds her life following this unimaginable loss.