Jason Karels is a Round Lake Beach, Illinois, father and military veteran who is accused of drowning his three children, ages 5, 3 and 2.
In a June 14 news conference, the Round Lake Beach Police Department said that three charges of first-degree murder are being filed against Karels, 35. He was arrested later in the day after an interstate car chase and crash.
The dead children were named as Bryant Karels, 5; Cassie Karels, 3; and Gideon Karels, 2. A representative of the Lake County Coroner’s Office said in the news conference that the preliminary cause of death was drowning. The father’s name is also given as Jason E. Karels and Jason Eric Karels.
There is a GoFundMe page to help the children’s mother.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Children’s Mother Found the Bodies Inside a Bedroom in the Home, Police Say
In the news conference, Police Chief Gilbert Rivera said that authorities received a request at 1:40 p.m. local time to perform a well-being check inside a home. The request came from the children’s mother, who was supposed to pick up the children from her “estranged husband.” The mother is named Debbie Karels, according to her Facebook page, where she has shared many photos showing her with the children and with Jason Karels. She works as a waitress at a local restaurant, according to the page.
The deaths occurred in the 200 block of E. Camden Lane in the Sutton on the Lake subdivision of Round Lake Beach, about one hour northwest of Chicago. The children were found in a bedroom of the home, Rivera said.
“She did enter the house” and discovered the bodies of her children, according to Rivera.
She called police, who found the children deceased and Karels missing. He was immediately identified as a person of interest. The mother was coming to pick up the children for a doctor’s appointment, said Rivera, who added that police were still determining the exact custody arrangements.
Police began looking for Karels and investigating the death of the children.
2. On Facebook, Karels Wrote About the Movie ‘Gone Girl,’ His Twitch Profile & Being in a ‘Dark Place’
In January, Karels wrote on Facebook about watching the movie “Gone Girl.” In that movie, a man is falsely accused in the disappearance of his wife, who is eventually revealed to have staged it. Karels wrote:
I just watched Gone Girl for the second time, but this time with my wife cause I couldn’t remember how it ended.
I realize now that I couldn’t remember because of how bad it was and the fact that it really bothered me that the author refuses to write a second book. It’s too easy to write a second book of Nick trying to get out from underneath her FOR THE SAKE OF HIS CHILD. A book that shows him doing exactly what he said he would do. Be a great father to his child. Find a way to get away with actually murdering her or frame her for something. If the author wants to stay true to the Amazing Amy theme than he fails to do so. but he at least tries and Amy gets away with everything again. Or he ends up in Jail and she raises their child alone. Anything would be better than how this ended.
Karels’ cover picture on Facebook is a meme of the Joker in the movie “The Dark Knight.” The meme reads, “Watch TV all day and no one bats an eye. Play video games for two hours and everyone loses their minds.” His profile picture shows a young child.
In a February 2022 post about his Twitch profile, CrimsonFuryOG, he described being in a “dark place” and praised his wife for helping him get out of it. The Twitch profile said he made a stream about Grand Theft Auto.
I was in a dark place for awhile and went through a sort of midlife crisis and lost who I was and what made me ‘me.’ Through this experience in twitch and RPing, along with the loving support of my wife who pushed me to do this, I finally found something to break me out of this funk and hopefully become something I can pursue to provide for the ones I love. I know it’s just a game but it reminds me of all the things I love and miss about the military on top of now feeling respected for my opinions and knowledge. It’s only been 30 days or so but it feels like so much longer.
Thank you for your support for those who stop by and sorry for the plug and sob story to those who find it annoying. But I hid it in the middle instead of starting with it because it is healthy for me to admit and confront these things rather than hiding from them, yet I didn’t want others to feel like I was using my pain to gain something. More of a confession for those who have seen that change to let them know I’m doing much better now.
He also wrote extensively about his activities on Twitch:
Come check it out if you are interested in seeing me RP as a police officer in GTA V. Been getting some support from people I meet in the city who find me funny or nice or polite. And also people who can’t believe how good my memory is when meeting them lol. 1600+ people playing on grandrp server 1 during peak hours…Been Streaming GTA V RP on twitch. CrimsonfuryOG is my handle. Check out some clips I’ve posted or join me sometime while I clean up the streets of Los Santos. Went from Cadet to PV3 in 5 days just putting in work. Starting to knock the rust off my trigger finger 😂.
He also made political statements, criticizing Joe Biden, abortion and Black Lives Matter. In one post, he referenced a shooting in Boulder and race, and in another, he joked that he identified as a Black man. He shared a video with positive view on former President Donald Trump and praised Russian President Vladimir Putin’s physique. Here are some of his posts:
3. Karels Wrote That He Worked as a Cryptologic Linguist for the Army & at the Cheesecake Factory
On LinkedIn, Karels wrote that he was a server for more than three years at the Cheesecake Factory in Lincolnshire, Illinois. In the past, he worked as a food server at Boston Fish Market Inc.
He also listed himself on LinkedIn as an “unemployed veteran” from 2019 to present.
He previously worked as an ink technician and wrote that for five years he was a U.S. Army cryptologic linguist whose job was to “intercept communications and translate from Arabic to English if necessary.”
4. Karels, Who Was Captured After a High-Speed Chase, Said He Unsuccessfully Tried to Kill Himself, According to Police
Authorities spotted Karels’ vehicle, a red Nissan Maxima, on Interstate 57 about 15 miles south of downtown Chicago. Karels led police on a 17-minute high-speed chase that ended with Karels crashing his car on Interstate 80 just south of Joliet, west of Chicago. Karels was eventually taken into custody after the crash, Rivera said.
According to Rivera, Karels indicated he was responsible for the death of the children and had tried unsuccessfully to kill himself. He was transferred to a nearby hospital.
The coroner confirmed that the three children were Karels’ children. Where they drowned was not clear. Authorities said they were not aware of previous domestic problems at the house. Rivera said police did not have a history with the family and that Karels was living at the home on Camden Lane.
Blood at the scene was not that of the children, according to Rivera. Karels made statements on body camera about wanting to hurt himself, the chief said. Rivera said he was not sure whether Karels had a criminal history. He said the slayings were potentially “motivated from a domestic situation.”
5. A GoFundMe Page Was Set Up to Help the Mother of ‘Those Three Innocent Angels’
The GoFundMe page says that, on June 13, 2022, “a father allegedly took the lives of all three of his children in the most violent way possible. Left to deal with this tragedy is the estranged wife of the murderer of those three innocent angels.”
The page continues:
I will provide more information as it becomes publicly available, but this fundraiser is to provide some monetary relief to handle the final arrangements for their mother as she endures the most unspeakable horror imaginable, the tragic loss of her children at the hands of someone so mentally ill.
My name is Dick Barr, and I am a Lake County Board Member. I can assure you that this fundraiser is legitimate, and every dime will make it into the hands of their grieving mother.
Further, I am not seeking reelection, so this is in no way an attempt to raise my profile for political purposes.
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.
Barr reposted a statement that he made earlier to the community:
Like so many of you, my heart is broken tonight. Tragedy pierced the the barrier between tv news and our own hometown and back yards. Three young and innocent souls were taken from this earth by unspeakable evil. That unspeakable evil existed in the heart and mind of the man who so heinously took the lives of three of his own children.
But that evil does not represent our town, our neighborhood, our street.
That evil has been in the hearts of minds of many people and it pays no mind to an address, community or even a country. It exists in Round Lake to Lake Forest and everywhere in between.
This was not a criminal act that is emblematic of who we are or where we live, rather a selfish soul, void of humanity, void of compassion, void of mental well being, who cared more about himself then he did about his own children.
As heart broken as I am, I am equally angry. I’m angry that this coward is not dead while his innocent children are stacked up at the morgue and his estranged wife weeps with sorrow no human alive should ever have to endure. I’m angry we continue to argue politics while mental illness stands at the center of all these tragedies and we do nothing about it.
And I am also sad. I am sad that there are some who point to our community and say things like “What do you expect from Round Lake Beach?” or “Our community is going to hell”…
I don’t buy that. Our community is strong… I see it in the faces of you neighbors every day as you drive past. i see it in the people who come together for gatherings, and events, and bike rides, and walks with the dog… the incessant parade of passersby with the familiar and friendly honks of the horn and wave of the hand.
I don’t accept it.
I don’t accept this has anything to do with our community and I insist ours is one of the best ones out there. This group started out of families banding together to build a stronger community, and in so many ways I think we’ve achieved it.
When this page started I knew a handful of people in the neighborhood, and now I know and trust literally HUNDREDS of you.
There is no place in the world I would rather live my live and raise my family than with you awesome neighbors, and I will not let this evil stand in the way of that. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for letting me vent. It helped me. God bless those little angels and guide them safely on their journey home to you.
Please, spread guidance and love on their poor mother who was the target of this evil. And please help our community heal, together. And God forgive me for my hypocrisy, as I wish great pain and suffering to this monster. Neighbors, hug your loved ones, wave to your neighbors, and pray for the peace of that poor mother.”
Christina Neumann Berg, one of the organizers of the page, wrote on Facebook:
😭😭😭 thank you so much Lake County Board Member Dick Barr / Dick Barr our family appreciates your compassion, kindness and initiative to help our family during this unthinkable and horrific tragedy. These innocent babies, my niece and 2 nephews, did not deserve this. My sister in law that I’ve known since she was a small child did not deserve this. My husband’s family did not deserve this. We can only pray and seek justice for their unspeakable loss and accept the community’s sympathy and support during this nightmare loss of the little angels who brought so much light and love to our family despite prior tragedies. Please keep our family and their mother, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins and family in your thoughts and please continue sharing the go fund me. Thank you 😭😭😭💔💔💔