Suburban Chicago man pleads not guilty in kids’ drownings

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (AP) — A suburban Chicago man accused in the drowning deaths of his three young children pleaded not guilty Thursday to three counts of first-degree murder.

A grand jury indicted 35-year-old Jason E. Karels this month in the June 13 deaths of 5-year-old Bryant Karels, 3-year-old Cassidy Karels and 2-year-old Gideon Karels.

Officers responding to a 911 call from the children’s mother discovered their bodies inside Karels’ home in Round Lake Beach in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. The Lake County Coroner’s Office determined the cause of death to be drowning. Officers at the scene found a note from Karels that said, “If I can’t have them, neither can you,” the Lake County State’s Attorney Office said.

Authorities have said Karels and the mother of his children were separated but shared joint custody.

Karels was arrested the day of the drownings following a 17-minute pursuit by Illinois state troopers that ended in a crash at an Interstate 80 bridge in Joliet, some 70 miles (110 kilometers) from his home. Karels was briefly hospitalized then transferred to the Lake County Jail, where he is being held without bond.

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