MILWAUKEE — Authorities arrested the husband of a slain suburban Milwaukee police officer who was shot dead on Christmas Eve while out on patrol.
Ben Gabriel Sebena, of Menomonee Falls, was booked into Milwaukee County Jail on Wednesday on a preliminary charge of first-degree intentional homicide in the death of his wife, Jennifer Sebena, the Wauwatosa police department said.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Ben Sebena had a lawyer. Kent Lovern, an assistant district attorney, said he didn’t know if anyone was representing Sebena yet or whether Sebena would be formally charged later Thursday.
Authorities have released few details about Jennifer Sebena’s killing, but said the Wauwatosa police officer was patrolling alone on the night she was killed. Officers found her body early Monday after she failed to respond to radio calls. She had been shot several times.
Jennifer Sebena, 30, had worked for the department for two years, and she is the first officer killed on active duty in the 96-year history of the department. Wauwatosa is a city of about 46,000 people just west of Milwaukee.
Her husband, also 30, is a decorated U.S. Marine veteran who served two tours in Iraq before suffering severe arm and leg injuries in a mortar attack in 2005.
Ben Sebena was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps as a corporal in 2005. Among his 10 medals and commendations were a Purple Heart, a Good Conduct medal and a badge as a rifle expert.
In a 10-minute video filmed for his church group in 2010, he described the mortar attack as well as his blossoming online courtship with Jennifer, whom he knew from high school.
“Our love flourished. We became actually infatuated with each other,” he said in the video for Elmbrook Church in nearby Brookfield. His identity in the video was confirmed to The Associated Press by Elmbrook Pastor Scott Arbeiter.
Arbeiter said the church holds an annual men’s conference in which organizers feature the stories of certain individuals. Ben Sebena talked about his transformation from a troubled teen to a Marine Corps veteran who rediscovered his faith in God. He eventually went on to counsel other troubled veterans.
Arbeiter, who said the Sebenas hadn’t been active in the church for about a year, said the Elmbrook family was grieving along with the victim’s family.
“None of this is news anyone wants to hear,” he said. “This is tragic on so many different levels.”
Jennifer Sebena’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday.
Associated Press writer Carrie Antlfinger contributed to this report.
Dinesh Ramde can be reached at dramde(at)ap.org.