KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A Wyandotte County Juvenile Detention Officer was remembered Wednesday by her friends and co-workers. Jennifer Combs, 45, was killed on Tuesday in what's being investigated as a murder-suicide. Police are investigating whether Combs' husband shot her before turning the gun on himself.
Combs' teenage daughter is the one who found her mom and stepdad’s bodies inside their home, and she and her brother were comforted by Combs' co-workers. Those kids don’t have any family left alive here in the area, so they were brought to the juvenile intake center Tuesday night, just as the co-workers were learning of the tragedy.
“Whether she was having problems outside, she still had to come be a parent here as well, you have to be a patient understanding person to do the job that we do,” said juvenile administrator Terri Broadus.
And it seems no one knew the level of problems at home for Combs. A team of counselors, including Lieutenant Kelli Bailiff, started consoling Combs co-workers just two rooms away.
“Emotionally for some of the people who were there, that made it more difficult for them to handle realizing that they walked by a door and those two kids were sitting in there,” Lt. Bailiff said.
Lt. Bailiff then turned her attention to the teen who witnessed the unthinkable, and had no idea where she’d spend the night or what would happen to her pets and belongings.
“I just wanted to let her know that we were hurting and I think it’s okay to let children know that her mother was part of our family, and our family is hurting and we are hurting along with her,” she said.
A drawing of a soaring eagle hangs in juvenile detention to inspire children there to rise above. The artist was Jennifer Combs. Broadus couldn’t help thinking Combs was the one now looking down on them, happy to see her work family is now caring for her own children.
“I believe everything happens for a reason, works out for a reason, and they came home, to her home here and we’ll make sure they are fine,” she said.
A custody hearing is expected to take place later this week for Combs’ children. As for the children Combs helped mentor, they haven’t told them of her passing yet, saying they wanted to make sure staff had time to grieve first.