A suburban Chicago mother discovered her three children dead in the home of her estranged husband on Monday after the trio had spent the weekend with their father.
Debra Karels found the bodies of her children, five-year-old Bryant, Cassidy, three, and Gideon Karels, two.
Preliminary autopsy results showed all three died after being drowned, Chief Deputy Coroner Steve Newton of the Lake County Coroner’s Office said.
Their father, Jason E. Karels, 35, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of the three young children.
Debra Karels found the bodies of her children, five-year-old Bryant, Cassidy, three, and Gideon Karels, two
Jason E. Karels, 35, from suburban Chicago faces three counts of first-degree murder after police say he killed his three children and then fled
Karels was arrested after leading police on a 17-minute car chase that ended in a crash on Monday after driving off an Interstate 80 bridge in Joliet, Illinois, Round Lake Beach Police Chief Gilbert Rivera said at a news conference.
Karels had to be extricated from the vehicle by firefighters and was hospitalized after the crash.
Officers wearing bodycams recorded Karels admitting to killing his three young children before fleeing in his car.
Rivera said the children’s mother, Debra, asked police to perform a well-being check at her husband’s home on Monday afternoon.
Bryant, five, Cassidy, three, and Gideon two, center, died by drowning
The three children are pictured after the birth of their baby brother
Jason Karels had been reported missing and was identified as a person of interest in the case. The three children had been with their father over the weekend as part of his visitation rights.
She found the trio lying dead in a bedroom.
‘They were excited to hear from me. They were excited to chat,’ Karels told The Daily Beast. ‘They were not doing anything special, they just seemed excited that I was going to pick them up the next morning.
‘I am just in disbelief. You never think something like this is going to happen to you. I never thought he would do this to his kids, but now I know, if you have any inkling of doubt, don’t ignore it and stick to your guns.’
Karels was missing and identified as a person of interest in the case. An alert was broadcasted to police departments across the Chicago area.
Estranged wife, Debra, said despite the couple’s separation, she had wanted her children to still have a relationship with their father
The couple are pictured on their wedding day together with their first child
Rivera said the parents shared custody of the children but did not live together.
Authorities say the killings appear to have been ‘motivated from a domestic situation’ with Debra’s sister-in-law explaining how Jason ‘had severe mental issues and refused to get help.’
‘Unfortunately, there was domestic abuse in their relationship and Debbie was finally getting the strength to leave him and proceed with a divorce,’ her sister-in-law Christina Neuman Berg, explained to the Daily Beast.
‘Debbie wanted to maintain a relationship with her kids’ father and let him visit them, and now we know that was a horrible mistake.’
Karels paid tribute to her three children, describing them as ‘wonderful’, each with their own personality.
Karels was arrested after leading police on a 17- minute car chase that ended in a crash on Monday after driving off an Interstate 80 bridge in Joliet
Police are pictured on the scene of Jason Karel’s home in the northern suburbs of Chicago where the children’s three bodies were found
Bryant, who was about to start kindergarten in September ‘was a very smart’ kid .
‘He used to say, “Don’t worry mommy, I’ll always take care of you,” Karels explained.
Daughter, Cassidy, was the ‘little middle child’ while Gideon ‘was a sweet little momma’s boy’ who loved dinosaurs and Mickey Mouse.
After the car crash in Joliet, Jason Karels told first responders he was responsible for the deaths of his children and had attempted to kill himself several times before fleeing the home.
Officers found the man’s blood in the house from his attempts to hurt himself.
Karels remains hospitalized and is expected to be discharged into police custody soon.
A GoFundMe has raised more than $45,000 toward a $100,000 goal, with the money going to the family of the three children.
‘This tragedy happened in my own neighborhood, and I need to make certain that this mother has everything she needs to not have to worry about money at this terrible time,’ Lake County Board member Dick Barr wrote.