Police: Round Lake Beach man drowned three children before leading police on chase
A Round Lake Beach man drowned his three children at his home before fleeing and leading police on a chase that ended in a crash off an Interstate 80 bridge in Joliet, authorities said Tuesday afternoon.
Jason E. Karels, 35, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder, officials said at a news conference Tuesday.
Karels was hospitalized after the crash and taken into police custody, officials said. He was in Lake County jail Tuesday evening, with a bond hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday in Waukegan.
According to preliminary autopsy results, Bryant Karels, 5; Cassidy Karels, 3; and Gideon Karels, 2, all died as a result of drowning, Lake County coroner's office Chief Deputy Steve Newton said.
Newton said the children's bodies did not have any signs of other substantial injuries.
Round Lake Beach Police Chief Gilbert Rivera said the children's mother was the first person to find their bodies Monday afternoon at the home on Camden Lane. Rivera said she then called 911 and police were sent to the scene.
Rivera said the parents shared custody of the children but did not live together. He did not know whether they were divorced.
Rivera said the mother had dropped the children off at the home earlier and arrived Monday afternoon to take them to a scheduled doctor's appointment. Officers found the children's bodies in a bedroom.
Rivera said that after the crash in Joliet, Karels told first responders he was responsible for the deaths of his children and had attempted to kill himself before fleeing the home. Rivera said officers found the man's blood in the house from his attempts to hurt himself.
The case remains under investigation, Rivera said.
More than $27,000 has been raised to support the children's mother via an online fundraiser organized by Lake County Board member Dick Barr.
Barr said the outpouring of community support has been amazing.
"The family is overwhelmed with gratitude of the incredible support and well wishes as well as the offers for support in other matters outside of fundraising," Barr said.
He said initially the fundraiser was for $25,000, but the goal was raised to $100,000 because the children's mother will not be able to return to work anytime soon and does not have a house or a car.
"There are major expenses that will be coming up in the coming weeks and months," Barr said. "We hope this will provide a level of financial stability as she mourns the loss of her babies and the life she knew before."