UPDATED: Wauwatosa Police Seek Killer of Officer Jennifer Sebena

The death of 30-year-old Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Lynn Sebena is being investigated as a homicide. The on-duty officer was shot multiple times and found about 5 a.m. in the Tosa Village.

A homicide investigation is under way in the death of Wauwatosa police officer Jennifer Lynn Sebena, 30, whose body was found early Christmas Eve morning in the Village area of the city.

Wauwatosa Police Lt. Gerald Witkowski said at a noon press conference that the on-duty officer was struck by multiple gunshots. Dispatchers had tried to reach her between 3 and 5 a.m. without success, and officers searched for her. A fellow officer found her dead about 5 a.m. Sebena's body was reportedly found in a parking lot at or very near Wauwatosa Fire Station No. 1, at 1463 Underwood Ave.

According to the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial web site, Sebena is the first Wauwatosa officer to be killed in the line of duty. Officer Abby Pavlik was shot and seriously wounded during a robbery investigation on Dec. 13, 2009. Pavlik recovered from her injuries.

Witkowski would not say whether Sebena was shot in her squad car or outside of it. He also would not speculate as to what led to the shooting. He did say that she was on patrol alone and that she did not call for backup. According to a police source from another department who has connections to the Wauwatosa Police Department, Officer Sebena was shot at least four times from the front.

Wauwatosa police are asking that anyone with any information about the shooting please call 414-771-8672, the Wauwatosa Police tip line. Tips can be anonymous.

The area near the shooting remained cordoned off through Monday afternoon, and the shooter or shooters remain at large as of almost 10 p.m. Monday. Witkowski said there are no suspects as of noon. Trinity Episcopal Church, in the area impacted by street closures due to the investigation, had to cancel a 4 p.m. Christmas Eve service. The church held a candlelight vigil at 10 p.m. for Sebena.

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Sebena joined the department in January 2011 while completing the law enforcement program at Milwaukee Area Technical College and began patroling solo in July of this year. She finished her probationary period in November, Witkowski said.

Sebena lived in Menomonee Falls. JSOnline reported that she lived with her husband, Benjamin Sebena, and the couple had no children. Various unmarked police vehicles and what appeared to be police officials were seen visiting a residence in Menonomee Falls on Monday afternoon, a residence that sources said was Sebena's. A Menonomee Falls Police Department spokesperson said the department was not involved in the investigation. 

"There's a lot of heavy hearts. It's not a believable thing," Witkowski said.

Witkowski said the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation is heading the investigation and that the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office was on the scene. Officers from Brookfield, West Allis, Elm Grove and the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department were also assisting.

Asked by one reporter why there was such a massive response, Witkowski said, almost incredulously: "Because we've lost an officer."

According to a former Wauwatosa police officer who retired last year — and was part of the panel that interviewed and hired Sebena — the officer would have been expected to have called in any contact that she initiated, such as a traffic stop or stopping a suspicious character.

"That would be the expectation," said former sergeant Tanya Karnick. "That is the training, and I think anyone from any of the departments around here would tell you that Wauwatosa's training is very, very good."

On the other hand, Karnick said, if a member of the public initiates contact with an officer — by approaching or flagging them down — it is not typical practice to radio that contact in before responding to the citizen, if there is no reason for suspicion.

Karnick said that late-shift Wauwatosa officers frequently use the fire station as a stop for the rest rooms or to use the office; for instance, as a place to file a report.

"If she's going into or coming out of the fire station, and somebody contacts her, no, she's not likely stop and report that contact," Karnick said.

'Great person, great officer'

Karnick said that what stood out to her in interviewing and recommending Sebena for the force was her personality and clear dedication to the service.

"She was very personable in her interviews," Karnick said. "She was attentive to the interview, but comfortable and confident. She was not too nervous – just the right amount.

"She seemed to have a really good, well-rounded personality, and a maturity that was remarkable. She was older than a lot of recruits just out of school. She was mature, confident, easy to communicate with.

"And she was a caring person," Karnick said. "She really wanted to do a good job at law enforcement. She was somebody who could empathize with other people." 

Sebena was injured during recruit training school, Karnick said — a not uncommon occurence — and that delayed her start as a probationary officer.

"She was really disappointed that she couldn't start work," Karnick said.

Lt. Witkowski, besides being public communications officer for the Wauwatosa police, is also its training coordinator, and was even more involved in Sebena's addition to the force.

"Great person, great officer," Witkowski said. "Our hearts are really heavy. You just can't believe something like this could happen. This is just an unbelievable act. This has touched everyone in our department ... especially at this time."

Even before she became a sworn officer, Sebena was showing how much she cared about the community. In April 2011, when the 22 recruits in her MATC officer training class No. 81 gave a hand to the Hunger Task Force in sorting 14,000 pounds of food, Sebena wrote up an article for the the school newspaper, the MATC Times, and took a picture of her class in community action. 

"Class #81 made the decision to volunteer with the Hunger Task Force because of the immense impact the organization has made by supplying basic needs in the local community," Sebena wrote. "Since the class already had strong ties to varying local communities, they were enthusiastic about volunteering together to make a positive difference.

"All 22 members of class #81 had a hand in ensuring that the donated products would make it to those in need."

BelchLikeAWelch December 26, 2012 at 01:33 AM
In response to the person who said Milwaukee Cops travel in pairs. Wrong. Don't know what Economy you are living in.
BelchLikeAWelch December 26, 2012 at 01:37 AM
2012 will always be remembered as a very somber Christmas. Condolences to the families involved And pray the Wauwatosa police department catches The criminal(s).
carpediem December 26, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Gun control!
paul hruz December 26, 2012 at 04:09 AM
Randy just ignore him her I sure Tosa Patch will turn over all the information they have on him her to the Tosa police
Gpamp December 26, 2012 at 05:28 AM
I think you may have the wrong neighborhood. I've been in this area for 20+ years and its never had drugs, prostitution or any problems of any kind! It's a wonderful area and always has been.
John Free December 26, 2012 at 02:20 PM
"Asked by one reporter why there was such a massive response, Witkowski said, almost incredulously: "Because we've lost an officer." " My condolences are extended to the family of Officer Sebena and the Tosa community. Officer Sebena, may you rest in peace. --Your Law Enforcement Officer Brother in Michigan
TosaRN December 26, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Unmanaged PTSD is at least as worrisome as "relative morality and poor parenting". :(
Randy1949 December 26, 2012 at 04:09 PM
You know what I really hate after a crime like this? Armchair detectives muddying up the investigation and creating hostile pre-trial publicity.
Thomas December 26, 2012 at 04:31 PM
you're a creep. My post was condemning the state of society, yet people like you feel the need to besmirch someone's name with absolutely no proof. Your existence, however, provides ample proof for my criticism of the societies lack of morals and bad parenting.
Young Conservative December 26, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Looks like the armchair detectives were on to something....
Randy1949 December 26, 2012 at 07:50 PM
I see Ben Sebena has been taken into custody. It remains to be seen whether he will be arrested, charged, or convicted. No matter what the outcome, the last thing the police and the DA need is anonymous people speculating as to guilt or possible motive on the internet.
otimiovasquez December 26, 2012 at 08:09 PM
There are Evil people in Tosa, the Murder was a Killing of Passion.
otimiovasquez December 26, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Evil resides in Tosa also.
otimiovasquez December 26, 2012 at 08:14 PM
sarah53226! Evil resides in Tosa, have you read the newspaper this morning? Evil resides in Tosa.
Thomas December 26, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Randy1949 Yeah. I agree. Commenting, speculating and all that pollutes impartiality of the potential jurors, and therefore polluting justice
Young Conservative December 26, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Its pretty obvious if you think about it....but then again liberals have a hard time seeing the obvious.
Randy1949 December 26, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Conservatives make up for it with their tendency to convict without waiting for actual facts. Again, Alfred, why don't you wait and let the police do their job?
Sharpie December 26, 2012 at 09:37 PM
In this country very obviously it is a gun issue. I agree that it's people who kill but to kill very effectively they need guns. Knifes can kill as well, but very frequently the result is less damaging. I agree that moral, sanity etc are the underlying issues but you can't fix those quickly in such a broken down society. Other countries with similar gun density (Switzerland, Canada) to way better in regard of gun violence most likely due to a higher degree in sanity. Nevertheless overall most civilized countries have much stricter gun laws and much, much less problems with gun violence.
W . Benz December 26, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Menomonee Falls patch reports the husband is in custody .
JustMe December 27, 2012 at 01:52 AM
I wonder who this so called "person of interest" is that the journal and tv stations are reporting. Also why was the husband taken in custody in West Allis? A lot of missing information that cops are probably covering up.
Thomas December 27, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Hey Randy1949 Don't let the fakers give real conservatives a bad name. It's not at all conservative to go around make conclusions based on No Evidence or Information. In fact, it's not liberal either. Coming up with an opinion without regard to fact is a trait commonly associated with adolescence.
Thomas December 27, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Young Conservative: methinks you should change your moniker. you aren't being particularly conservative in your judgement. Young-fly-off-the-handle-and-form-opinions-with-no-fact-Boy seems about right.
Thomas December 27, 2012 at 02:04 AM
My guess, Justme, is that he's in another municipality's lockup to avoid any conflict of interest in processing, questioning and other procedural stuff. It's about the equivalent of a presidential candidate having their investments managed by a blind trust when their running for office. That's just my guess, but a pretty good one.
TosaRN December 27, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Joinpatch December 27, 2012 at 07:26 AM
Thomas is spot on. There is nothing to cover up, an investgation of this magnitude is significantly more complex than your scoop and flip minimum wage grind.
HOLDEN CAULFIELD December 27, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Well you are dead wrong and all the arm chair dectetives are right on the money. I think you owe "All the truth"... an apology.. He obviously knew what he was talking about. He da man and you need to pack your bags and get out of Dodge !!
HOLDEN CAULFIELD December 27, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Law enforcement officers are searching the Menomonee River, near the Sebena's residence for Ben Sebena's firearm !! surprise, surprise !!
HOLDEN CAULFIELD December 27, 2012 at 01:51 PM
and law enforcement personnel are searcing the Sebena's home and the Menomonee River for Ben Sebena's firearm....
HOLDEN CAULFIELD December 27, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Ben Sebena has been booked and arrested and is in the Milwaukee County Jail
HOLDEN CAULFIELD December 27, 2012 at 02:14 PM
WAUWATOSA - Wauwatosa Police confirm that Benjamin Sabena has been arrested and booked into the Milwaukee County Jail on a tentative 1st degree intentional homicide charge for the death of his wife, Jennifer, on Christmas Eve.


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