But almost immediately, Justin felt police were overlooking critical clues that pointed to April's possible killer. The biggest one: witnesses told police they had seen a second car parked at the beach around the time Justin and April were shot.
"We didn't have a tag number. We didn't have a reliable make. I would have loved to have found it 'cause you know what? That was a potential witness in my mind. The simple fact is we could not," Det. Cole explains.
Justin was also mystified why police weren't thoroughly investigating suspicious incidents that happened while April was living on her own in Georgia.
April's car was broken into, and just three weeks before the murder, so was her house.
"We did speak to the investigators that actually worked that burglary. There is no connection with that in this case," Cole says.
Asked if he was aware of any people he considered a threat to his wife, Justin says, "I think that we're stretching a bit when we say that. I think that there were some folks in April's life that should have been investigated. There were certainly a few people there that had a romantic interest in April. But did the police follow up on those leads? No, I don't believe they did."
But what he didn't know is police were pursuing leads of their own and in fact, they thought they were already zeroing in on April's killer: Justin Barber himself.
"The situation as he presented it wasn't adding up," says Cole.
Even the basic premise of Justin's story didn't make sense to Cole. The detective thinks the location itself was an unusual place for a stick-up. "I don't see why they would. It just doesn't make any sense. It never happened before and it hasn't happened since," he says.
Cole's suspicions were first raised when he found out nothing was taken during the alleged robbery, including Justin's wallet and April's diamond ring. And when Cole took Justin to the beach after April's funeral, he became even more suspicious.
"He certainly appeared to be crying but there's no tears coming down his face. He was almost rubbing his eyes, trying to force up some emotion," the detective remembers.
So Cole took a closer look at Justin's account of what happened after he left April on the beach that night, beginning with his attempt to flag down three passing cars.
"If what he's saying is true, I would expect to get numerous 911 calls, and we received none," he says.
Most troubling of all to Cole was that when Justin got into his car to find help for his wife, he drove almost ten miles before stopping.
"There's a McDonald's right here, that would have been opened. There's a Walgreen's right here. That's 24-hours. Just north of here there's a 24-hour Shell station. And they're very well-illuminated. I mean if you truly were trying to get help, that certainly would be a place that I would consider getting help," Cole points out. "I don't think anybody would accept that that man left his wife and drove ten miles away to get help. That defies reason."
Meanwhile, April's family, and friends like Amber Mitchell, were comparing notes and growing suspicious of Justin, too.
The story they began to piece together was of a marriage in trouble. And they realized that problems surfaced right at the beginning, when April's siblings, Julie and Kendon, came to live with the newlyweds in Georgia.
"Whenever we first lived with them, it was good. Towards the end of living with them, it got kind of tense. I was very strong-willed and I didn't like it," Julie says.