Round Lake Beach police said a mother who was supposed to pick up her three children from her estranged husband contacted them around 1:40 p.m. to perform a well-being check inside a home in the 200-block of E. Camden Lane in the Sutton-on-the-Lake subdivision.
When police arrived, they found three children, identified to the Lake County Coroner's Office as Bryant Karels, age 5, Cassidy Karels, age 3, and Gideon Karels, age 2. The coroner's office said preliminary autopsies indicate they died from drowning.
Police on the scene discovered the father, Jason Karels, 35, was missing along with his car, a red Nissan Maxima. Illinois State Police later found the vehicle on I-57 at 115th Street and started a high-speed chase which would end in a crash in a wooded area off of I-80 in Joliet.
Police said Karels was taken into custody and told officers he was responsible for the deaths.
"After the crash, Karels made statements to police officers involved in the chase and wearing body-worn cameras indicating he was responsible for the deaths of the children at the Round Lake Beach home," Round Lake Beach Police Chief Gilbert Rivera said. "He also said he attempted to commit suicide several times after the deaths of the children but was unsuccessful during these attempts.
Police declined to give a motive, but said Karels and the children's mother were estranged and may have been sharing custody of the kids.
"I don't know that anything could've stopped this or if there were any early indications of it," Chief Rivera said. "As I mentioned, we were not familiar with this family nor with the house."
Karels, who remains hospitalized, has been charged with three counts of murder. Officials said his condition has been stabilized and he is expected to be released from the hospital soon.
A Go FundMe has been created to benefit the victims.