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HomeGeneralJudge Sentences Chicago Man to Life in Prison for Killing His Kids

Judge Sentences Chicago Man to Life in Prison for Killing His Kids

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A Chicago judge sentenced a Round Lake Beach father on Friday, February 16, 2024, to life in prison without parole for drowning his three young children. The suburban man reportedly wrote to his estranged wife after committing the heinous crime, “If I can’t have them, neither can you.”

A picture of Chicago man sentenced for drowning his three kids
Source: HuffPost/X

Judge James Booras sentenced Jason Karels after considering victim-impact statements written by the children’s mother, maternal grandmother, and aunt. According to the prosecutor’s statement, the letters called Karels “a monster’ who destroyed many lives.”

On June 13, 2022, Round Lake police responded to 200 East Camden Lane after an emergency report. The children’s mother became worried about their safety and sent the cops to check on them. According to reports, the children were on a weekend visit since the parents shared custody.

However, the mom planned to pick them up for a doctor’s visit that day. After arriving at the house, police found the children, 5-year-old Bryant, 3-year-old Cassidy, and 2-year-old Gideon, dead inside Karels’ home. Also, they discovered a note at the scene that read, “If I can’t have them, neither can you.”

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Later that evening, Illinois State Police spotted Karels’ car on Interstate 57 near 115th Street. After a 17-minute chase across multiple highways, Karels crashed along Interstate 80 near Water Street in Joliet. As police and firefighters pulled Karels from the wreck, he admitted to the murder. 

He said he’d killed his children and made multiple suicide attempts but failed. Consequently, the county police arrested him and detained him for murder. They hospitalized him due to injuries from the crash but took him back into custody. After further investigation, the Lake County coroner determined the three children died from drowning.

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Upon concluding the investigation, authorities charged Karels in court. The 36-year-old pleaded guilty but mentally ill on December 15, 2023, to three counts of first-degree murder. Also, his lawyers argued that he has a mental illness but understands the difference between right and wrong.

During the hearing, one of the prosecutors in the case, Eric Kalata, condemned Karels’ actions on Friday. He described it as “brutal, evil, and sinister.” In addition, Kalata stated that Karels caused panic, fear, and absolute terror in those children’s final moments. 

The prosecutor also argued that he used them as pawns in a scheme of revenge against his estranged wife. The children’s mother, Debra Karels, told CBS in 2022 that she and Karels were in the middle of a divorce. She said he “constantly played games and neglected his family.”

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Debra added that Karels was supposed to love and protect them at all costs, but he did the opposite instead. Also, before Judge Booras accepted the negotiated sentencing, he described Karels’ actions as “sickening” and “despicable.”

Following Karels’ sentencing, Debra described the loss as a wound that will remain unhealed forever. Afterward, several people came together to support the family. Lake County Community Action also collectively created a GoFundMe campaign to support Debra financially.

“Our thoughts are first, with the family today,” State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said in a statement. “This has been a devastating case for the family and community. They will always have this Office’s support.”

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