A Gothenburg police officer and her husband were found dead in their home Friday night, June 7, after an apparent murder-suicide.

Ellen Mortensen of the Gothenburg Leader said law officers were dispatched around 9 p.m. to the home of Jeff and Jill McCandless on 19th street. Upon arrival, they found both bodies.

Dawson County Attorney Elizabeth Waterman said a relative was the first on the scene and called 911. Gothenburg police and Dawson County Sheriff’s officers responded.

Jill McCandless, 53, had served the Gothenburg Police since 2007, when she became the third woman on the force, her family said. She was one of six full-time patrol officers, according to the police department’s website.

Jeff McCandless was 52 years-old. He was a locomotive engineer for Union Pacific, working out of Bailey Yard. He graduated from North Platte Public Schools in 1985. Services for him will be at 10 a.m. Friday, June 14  at the Baptist Church in Gothenburg.

The couple was married in 2013.

Funeral services for Jill will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in the north gym of Gothenburg Senior High, 1322 Ave I.

The Nebraska State Patrol is investigating the deaths. Autopsies have been scheduled, Waterman said.


Obituary information

Jill Lorraine Larson graduated from Gothenburg High in 1984. She was born May 18, 1966 in Grand Island, the daughter of Bernie and Jenelle (Oman) Larson, family members said in her obituary.

She was a homemaker for three children, worked as a cook at the school cafeteria and was a swimming pool manager and lifeguard.

She was a hard working officer, well respected by coworkers, supervisors, city employees, other agencies and citizens, her obituary said.

Survivors include her mother, Jenelle Larson of Gothenburg; two daughters, Abby Lorraine (Sean Sabin) Ostergard of Gothenburg and Alexa Lynne (Joe) Libal of Gothenburg; a son Stefen Strayer Ostergard; three grandsons, Dawson Ostergard, Jaxon Earll, Jase Thomas; three granddaughters, Sadie Thomas, Selah Thomas, Scarlett Thomas; two brothers, Pat (Rhonda) Larson and Haley Cline, Justin Larson of AZ; three nephews, Tyler Larson, Nate Larson, Brock Larson; step-children Samantha (Josh) Thomas, Joe (Cassandra Kastens) McCandless, and Kyle McCandless.

Memorials may be given to the Gothenburg Backpack Program or in memory of Jill for community purposes that will be determined later.

Visitation will be held at Blase-Strauser Memorial Chapel in Gothenburg from 1-7 p.m. on Friday, June 14, with the family present from 4-6 p.m.


Jeff McCandless

After studying diesel mechanics, Jeff worked at a marina in Wyoming before moving to Colorado Springs as a boat mechanic. He eventually moved back to North Platte where he worked at Twin Rivers Diesel, and Mid NE Diesel before joining Union Pacific.

Survivors include his children, Samantha (Joshua) Thomas of Omaha, Josef (Cassandra Kastens) McCandless of Ashland, and Kyle McCandless of Omaha; parents, Gary and Gerri McCandless of North Platte; grandchildren, Sadie, Selah, Scarlett, and Jase Thomas; brother, Troy McCandless of Blair; step-children, Abby (Sean) Sabin, Alexa (Joe) Libel, and Stefen Ostergard; and step-grandson, Dawson Ostergard.

Memorials are suggested to Maranatha Bible Camp.