Blue lights to honor Jennifer Sebena as anniversary of her death approaches

WAUWATOSA (WITI) -- The murder of a Wauwatosa police officer on Christmas Eve of last year cast a dark cloud over her department and her city. Now, the holiday season is upon us again, and Wauwatosa's police chief is reflecting on the last year and how some are honoring Jennifer Sebena.

It is hard to comprehend what members of the Wauwatosa Police Department went through after Jennifer Sebena was gunned down at the height of the holiday season. Nearly a year later, the healing continues.

"It was just one of those unfathomable things that happened. I don't think six months ago I would have been able to sit here and talk about this," Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber said.

Benjamin Sebena pleaded guilty to shooting his wife, Jennifer multiple times on Christmas Eve, 2012, outside a Wauwatosa fire station.

Chief Weber says Jennifer Sebena's death left a mark on his department.

"The officers that were working that night took it really hard. Some people will probably never get over the incident," Chief Weber said.

It was a death re-lived during a battle to get Jennifer Sebena's name on a national memorial for fallen officers, and again during Benjamin Sebena's sentencing.

Now, the holiday season is upon them.

"We`ve got all that behind us and we`re just coming up on the Christmas thing and that`s -- I think that`s gonna be the worst one," Chief Weber said.

Chief Weber is grateful his officers were spared the stress of a trial.

Benjamin Sebena was sentenced to life in prison, but will be eligible for parole in 35 years.

"That just means he`s eligible. That doesn`t mean he`s gonna get out. Those are decisions that are beyond what we do," Chief Weber said.

Officers will wear a pin with Jennifer Sebena's number the week of Christmas Eve, and a committee is working on memorials for the police station and in the community.

"We want to do something in an honorable way and dignified way to preserve her memory," Chief Weber said.

Others are choosing to remember Jennifer Sebena's bright personality this holiday season with blue lights.

Becky Abbott is a childhood friend of Jennifer Sebena, and one of hundreds joining a Facebook effort encouraging people to display blue lights on their homes in Jennifer Sebena's memory.

"Everybody can kind of be in a community of remembering Jenny all together. Show her family as well as her law enforcement family that we are remembering her," Abbott said.

The Wauwatosa Fire Department isn't hosting any big events on Christmas Eve to remember Jennifer Sebena, though Chief Weber says there will be some low-key, quiet get-togethers.

No one expects that day will be an easy one.