I-TEAM

Murder at the firehouse: Investigating the death of a Tosa police officer

CREATED Jan 31, 2013

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WAUWATOSA - The Christmas Eve murder shook the entire community.

Officer Jennifer Sebena is the only officer killed in the line of duty in Wauwatosa history. Her murder, although a month ago, still leaves many people wondering how this scene played out. How could an on-duty police officer lie dead in front of a firehouse for almost an hour before being found?

On Christmas Eve morning of 2012, Underwood Avenue in Wauwatosa turned into a gruesome murder scene, right outside the firehouse.

"Our hearts are really heavy,” said Gerald Witkowski with Wauwatosa Police. “You just can't believe something like this occurs."

The city mourned the loss of officer Jennifer Lynn Sebena who was shot to death, shot five times, from two separate weapons. Police say it was by the hands of her own husband, Benjamin Sebena.

“It changed the way a lot of us feel in this neighborhood,” said Neal Storey, who lives behind firehouse.

Storey's house is about 100 feet from where officers found Sebena's body in the parking lot.

“It's un-nerving to us on a lot of different levels,” said Storey. “Number one, that violence in our backyards. And number two, that something like that could happen and none of my neighbors, no one around here, heard a sound.”

Two types of bullets were used in the shooting - three from a 40 caliber gun and two bullets from nine millimeter.

The I-TEAM went to the Shooters Shop in West Allis to test them out. Fired at close range the gunshots register at more than 100 decibels.

But when shots are fired, audiologist Jody Cole said a person can not always distinguish the sound.

“If you're not use to hearing that kind of sound it may not register it was a gun shot,” said Cole.

There were nine firefighters sleeping inside this firehouse that Christmas Eve morning. The fire chief tells me none heard the shots or knew Sebena was in danger until dispatch called. But the I-TEAM's sources reveal two firefighters did hear something, they just did not recognize it as gunfire. They even looked outside and saw Sebena's squad car but say they never saw her and went back to sleep.

Wauwatosa's fire chief tells us there's a special room within the firehouse only police have access to, and not even firefighters are allowed inside. It was believed that is where Officer Sebena was, filing a report.

“We feel bad that we didn't hear something,” said Storey. “To think she as laying over there in the parking lot for hours and nobody knew.”

Benjamin Sebena allegedly stalked his wife for two other days before Christmas Eve.

While he sits in jail awaiting trial, the Department of Justice continues to oversee this investigation right now. Some wonder if they didn't hear the shots for obvious reasons.

The mystery, the one big thing that comes up around here is whether she was actually shot there, was she shot somewhere else and that's where she was dumped.

Answers we hope to get in a complete investigation. But until then this community is left to ponder over the murder at outside the firehouse.

It's a mystery for us, it really, really is.

Wauwatosa Police and the Department of Justice did not want to comment due to the ongoing investigation.

But this is a story neighbors wanted us to investigate. And that's what the I-TEAM is all about - helping you and your community. If there's an issue you want brought to light, let us know here.