An Illinois father has been accused of drowning his three young children in a bathtub during a custodial visit this earlier week.
According to People, Jason Karels was charged with three counts of murder for the deaths of his kids – 5-year-old Bryant, 3-year-old Cassidy, and 2-year-old Gideon. His estranged wife, Debra Karels, was supposed to pick up the little ones after they spent the weekend with the 35-year-old dad. However, she was unable to get a hold of them, so she asked the police to perform a wellness check at the Round Lake Beach residence at around 1:40 p.m. on Monday, ABC 7 Chicago reported.
When law enforcement arrived at the home, they discovered the bodies of three kids. As NBC Chicago reported, Jason allegedly drowned the children one at a time in the bathtub and then left their bodies in a bed at home. At the scene, there was also left a haunting note meant for Debra that read:
“If I can’t have them, neither can you.”
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During the discovery, their father was missing along with his red Nissan Maxima, spurring a massive search. Police eventually tracked the car down on I-57 and pursued him in a high-speed chase for 17 minutes, which ended when Jason crashed the vehicle. Round Lake Beach Police chief Gilbert Rivera said in a press conference:
“After the crash, Karels made statements to police officers involved in the chase and wearing body-worn cameras indicating he was responsible for the deaths of the children at the Round Lake Beach home. He also said he attempted to commit suicide several times after the deaths of the children.”
Jason was transported to the hospital to treat his injuries before being moved to Lake County Jail the next day. A judge ordered him to be held on a $10 million bond.
Following the tragedy, Debra has spoken out about the deaths of her kids, telling CBS Chicago on Wednesday:
“The most important thing to me were the kids, and he knew that. He knew that nothing mattered but those children, and he took them away from me, because he knew that would hurt me the most.”
The mom told the outlet that she and Jason were in the middle of a divorce when the murders happened as he “constantly played games and neglected his family.” Still, she wanted her children to have a relationship with their dad and brought them over to his place that weekend. Sadly, things took horrific turn. She added:
“I thought what was right was the father should be involved. The father should see them. I just had so much faith; so much faith, so much love that it would all work out in the end, and it didn’t.”
It is just awful what happened here. We cannot imagine what this mom must be going through — especially losing her kids so suddenly. Lake County Board member Dick Barr set up a GoFundMe for Debra, writing:
“[T]his fundraiser is to provide some monetary relief to handle the final arrangements for their mother as she endures the most unspeakable horror imaginable.”
When the original goal was met, Barr increased the amount to $100,000, explaining:
“We started discussing things like she won’t be able to go back to work for some time, and all of her worldly possessions are in his name. She has no house, no car, she has to file for divorce. [W]e have decided to increase our goal to provide a higher level of support so Debbie can deal with the tragedy while not worrying about surviving financially.”
We are keeping Debra in our thoughts right now. Just a tragedy…
[Image via Round Lake Beach Police, GoFundMe]