Round Lake Father Enters “Guilty” Plea for Drowning, Killing His Three Children

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Jason E. Karels, suspected killer of his three children by drowning in Round Lake Beach (SOURCE: Round Lake Police Department)
Jason E. Karels, convicted killer of his three children by drowning in Round Lake Beach (SOURCE: Round Lake Police Department).

Today, Friday, December 15, 2023, Jason Karels, age 36, entered a “guilty but mentally ill” plea to three counts of first-degree murder for the June 13, 2022, killing of his three children who were ages 2, 3, and 5. With this plea, Karels will be sentenced to natural life in the Illinois Department of Corrections without the possibility of parole.

Prior to entering into the plea agreement, the prosecutors and victim specialist consulted extensively with the family and several members of the family were present in court for today’s hearing.

“This case has devasted 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,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said.

On June 13, 2022, Round Lake Beach Police Department responded to a 911 call at 200 East Camden Ln in Round Lake Beach, after the mother of the victims discovered their deceased bodies. When police arrived, they found three children dead inside the home. The Lake County Coroner’s Office later determined the cause of death to be drowning. Officers on scene found a note from Karels that said, “If I can’t have them neither can you.”

Karels was arrested later that evening near Joliet, following a 17-minute pursuit by Illinois State Troopers. The chase led to Karel’s vehicle crashing near interstate 80 and Water Street in Joliet. While being removed from the car, Karels made statements to police officers regarding his role in the triple homicide.

After today’s court hearing, Round Lake Police Department put out the following statement:

“The Round Lake Beach Police Department would like to thank the numerous investigators from multiple jurisdictions who contributed countless hours to this investigation. We would also like to recognize Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart and his entire office who assisted throughout the investigation and delivered a just outcome in this case. Our thoughts continue to be with the family and friends of the victims and the rest of our community affected by this senseless tragedy. While nothing can bring these wonderful children back, we hope this outcome will give the family and loved ones some closure.”

A pre-sentence investigation was ordered for Karels and has an official sentencing hearing scheduled for February 16, 2024, at 9:30 a.m.



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