Jason Karels, a 35-year-old Illinois father, has been charged with three counts of murder after he allegedly murdered his three children during a custodial visit on Monday.
According to Chief Gilbert Rivera of the Round Lake Beach Police Force, the mother of the victims called authorities, asking them to carry out a wellness check at the home of her estranged husband, Jason Karels, who had a scheduled visit with his children that day.
At the scene, officers discovered the bodies of the three children. Jason Karels was not present, but was identified by authorities as a person of interest.
Law and Crime reported Police later found Karels on Interstate 57, where he led officers on a high-speed car chase which ended as he crashed his vehicle, leading to his arrest. The suspect was treated at a local hospital before being released into police custody, where he is currently being detained.
Why is Jason Karels accused of killing his children?
As per ABC, Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said that investigators found a motive behind the murders in a note Jason reportedly left at home.
“Mr. Karels left a note in the home, which stated, ‘If I can’t have them, neither can you.”
According to the New York Post, Jason Karels was in the middle of divorce proceedings with his wife, Debra Karels. The couple was also preparing for a custody battle which would determine which parents the children would live with. Debra claimed that Jason committed the murder as he thought he would lose the custody battle for the children:
“He knew that nothing mattered to me more than those children. He took them away from me because he knew it would hurt me the most.”
In an interview with the Daily Beast, Christina Neuman Berg, who is married to Debra's brother, said that the relationship between Jason and Debra was fraught with violence.
“(Jason) had severe mental issues and refused to get help. Unfortunately, there was domestic abuse in their relationship and (Debra) was finally getting the strength to leave him and proceed with a divorce.”
"But (Debra) wanted to maintain a relationship with her kids’ father and let him visit them, and now we know that was a horrible mistake.”
According to authorities, autopsies revealed that Jason Karels had drowned his 3 children in the bathtub, then moved their bodies to the bedroom. Upon his arrest, police allege that he confessed to the murder on bodycam, before revealing that he had tried to commit suicide numerous times after killing his children.
A member of the Lake County Board, Dick Barr, has set up a GoFundMe to support Debra Karels as she mourns her children. As of June 16, it has raised over $50,000 in donations.