WAUKEGAN, Ill. — A suburban Chicago man who told his estranged wife “If I can’t have them neither can you” pleaded guilty but mentally ill Friday to three counts of first-degree murder for killing their three young children, a prosecutor said.

Jason Karels, 36, of Round Lake Beach will be sentenced to life in the Illinois Department of Corrections without the possibility of parole, Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said.

Karels admitted to killing by drowning 5-year-old Bryant Karels, 3-year-old Cassidy Karels and 2-year-old Gideon Karels on June 13, 2022.

Officers sent to his home to check on the welfare of the children found a note for his estranged wife saying, “If I can’t have them neither can you,” prosecutors have said.

“This case has devasted the Round Lake Beach community and beyond,” Rinehart said in a news release. “We hope that today’s resolution provides some measure of closure, and we will continue to provide support to the family.”

Several members of the family were present in court for the hearing.

Karels was arrested after leading police on a chase that ended in a crash at an Interstate 80 bridge in Joliet, Round Lake Beach police have said. Karels was briefly hospitalized after the crash.

After the crash, Karels told first responders he was responsible for his children’s deaths and had attempted to kill himself before fleeing the home, police said. Officers found his blood in the house from his attempts to hurt himself.

Police said at the time of the deaths that the parents shared custody of the children but did not live together.

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