Illinois Father Charged With Drowning His 3 Young Kids

Jason Karels, 35, charged with murdering his children amidst divorce battle
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2022 1:00 AM CDT
Illinois Father Charged With Drowning His 3 Young Kids
This booking photo provided by the Office of the States Attorney of Lake County, Illinois, shows Jason Karels on Monday, June 13, 2022.   (Office of the States Attorney of Lake County, Illinois via AP)

(Newser) – An unimaginable alleged crime in Illinois, where police say 35-year-old Jason Karels drowned his three young children at his home as their mother, his estranged wife, prepared to pick them up for a doctor's appointment. The two shared custody of Bryant, 5, Cassidy, 3, and Gideon, 2, CBS News reports. Debra Karels called police to request a welfare check at her estranged husband's Round Lake home on Monday, and police entered the residence to find the children dead in a bedroom and Jason Karels gone, the Daily Beast reports. They say they also found a note reading, "If I can’t have them, neither can you." He's been charged with three counts of murder.

Debra and Jason Karels were involved in a custody battle, and he had the children for the weekend when they were murdered. Police believe he drowned them one at a time in a bathtub. "I talked to the kids the night before. I said, 'I love you so much. I can't wait to see you tomorrow.' And the next day they're gone. 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," Debra Karels tells ABC 7. She says Jason Karels struggled with mental health issues including suicidal thoughts, but wouldn't get help. After Jason Karels was located, and arrested following a high-speed chase, he told police he had tried to kill himself after killing his children but was not successful, police say. (Read more Illinois stories.)

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