‘I was in disbelief’: Local officer loses mother and sister in rural Harrisonville house fire

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CASS COUNTY, Mo. — A Lake Lotawana police officer is mourning the loss of his mother and sister who were killed Sunday afternoon in a house fire in rural Harrisonville

Officer John Doubledee, 22, said when he became a police officer, his family was proud. He joined the department last year.

“My sister was beyond belief excited for me,” Doubledee said. “My mom, of course, being the worrisome mother she was, if I was ever brought up in the occasion she’d say, ‘He’s a police officer and I’m so proud of him.'”

His 64-year-old mom Janet and 23-year-old sister Sarah lived together in rural Harrisonville. Sarah lived with a mental disorder, but John said she was always happy and kind. Janet took care of her and had a closer bond after her husband died.

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department said it got a call the Doubledee’s house was on fire late Sunday afternoon. Both Janet and Sarah did not survive.

“I was in disbelief. There were a ton of emotions running through,” Doubledee said. “I was in disbelief. I was devastated. I was holding out all hope.”

John came back to where his childhood home once the fire was out to go through the rubble and found his father’s ashes in his urn undamaged. 

“It meant the world,” Doubledee said. “It’s just — yeah. It really felt awesome because it was the only thing left standing in the house, really. It was overwhelming. It really was.”

Julie Larsen was friends with the women for 18 years. She came back to their home to search through what’s left for items John might want.

“Janet taught me how to laugh and not be afraid of that deep belly laugh. I really miss hearing that laugh,” Larsen said.

“Sarah was the epitome of unconditional love,” Larsen said. “Every time you met her, every time I saw her — ‘JULIE!’ — and this great big hug. I missed you so much, and it didn’t matter how long it had been since you’d seen her.”

Doubledee said he’ll miss his mom and sister every day, but knows they will be together again.

“It’s going to be an amazing reunion someday,” Doubledee said.

A memorial fund is set up through the Adrian Bank of Archie. It will help the young officer pay for their services and clean up the property.

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