A “Monster” Who Destroyed Many Lives Sentenced to Life Without Parole in Lake County, Illinois

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

Jason Karels, age 36, was sentenced today, Friday, February 16, 2024, to life in prison without the possibility of parole, after entering a “guilty but mentally ill” plea on December 15, 2023, for the killing of his three children. His children were ages 2, 3, and 5.

“Our thoughts are first, with the family today. This has been a devastating case for the family and community. They will always have this Office’s support. The law enforcement officers from Round Lake Beach performed unbelievably in the most difficult of circumstances imaginable. We are thinking of them too. Finally, I want to thank our team of lawyers, Jeff Facklam, Eric Kalata, and Mary Daly, and the victim specialist, Dawn Patch. These dedicated professionals worked tirelessly to support the family and ensure that this offender was brought to justice,” said State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart after the sentencing.

At the sentencing hearing, Judge James Booras considered three victim-impact statements written by the children’s mother, maternal grandmother, and aunt.

In the statements, that were read in open court, the family described the three children as beautiful, innocent children who did not deserve what happened to them, stating that Karels is a “monster” who destroyed many lives. The family stated that Karels was the one person who was supposed to love and protect them at all costs and instead, he did the complete opposite.

The statements also expressed how the loss of those three children was like a “light lost,” leaving an eternal darkness in their lives. One of the statements explained how even using the term “murder” makes the loss more difficult. The family discussed how the loss would be a wound that remained unhealed forever.

Throughout the case, the State was represented by Chief of the Criminal Division, Jeff Facklam, Chief of the Domestic Violence Division Eric Kalata and Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Daly. Today, Mr. Kalata argued that the life sentence absolutely necessary and appropriate.

Mr. Kalata described Karels’ actions as “brutal, evil, and sinister.” He stated that Karels caused panic, fear, and absolute terror in those children’s final moments, using them as pawns in a scheme of revenge.

Before Judge Booras accepted the negotiated sentencing, and he described Karels’ actions as “sickening” and “despicable.”

Round Lake Beach Police Chief Wayne Wilde and detectives were present at the sentencing in support of the mother and children.

Karels will serve his life sentence without the possibility of parole in the Illinois Department of Corrections.



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