Police believe James Barnes, 30, attacked neonatal nurse Amy, 32, at the marital home
A fitness fanatic murdered his wife of just three years before killing himself in his parents’ garden after the pair ran into marital difficulties, friends have claimed.
James Barnes, who was interested in bodybuilding, attacked neonatal nurse Amy at the marital home, police believe.
The 30-year-old then allegedly drove 15 miles across the West Midlands to his parents’ house in affluent Streetly, where his body was found in the garden.
Moments before carrying out the apparent murder-suicide, Mr Barnes had posted a picture of the couple walking through a shower of confetti following their May 2014 wedding ceremony.
Friends yesterday described Mr Barnes as a ‘lovely guy’ – but one said he had admitted the couple had been going through a ‘difficult patch’.
The friend, who asked not to be named, said he last spoken to Mr Barnes – who once studied to become a personal trainer – a day before he died.
But he said that while the couple’s relationship was apparently under strain, he didn’t think their difficulties were untoward, adding: ‘Every marriage has its problems.’
Mr and Mrs Barnes, pictured on their wedding day in 2014, were found dead 15 miles apart
Moments before carrying out the apparent murder-suicide, Mr Barnes had posted this picture of the couple walking through a shower of confetti following their 2014 wedding ceremony
Another friend of the Barnes family claimed the University of Derby graduate had written a heartfelt Facebook post outlining his pain over the state of his marriage around the time of the murder-suicide. The post could not be seen on his page yesterday.
Paramedics who were called to a bungalow belonging to Barnes’s parents, Vivien, 68, and Robert Barnes, 72, in affluent Streetly, West Midlands, raised the alarm with police after failing to revive the graduate.
Police discovered Mrs Barnes, 32, around 40 minutes later at the couple’s new-build property in Rednal, on the other side of Birmingham.
There neighbours described hearing a burglar alarm briefly go off at the property on Monday night, less than two hours before Mrs Barnes was discovered in cardiac arrest.
A student who lives in the area said: ‘I heard an alarm go at the house at about 11pm. It ended very quickly, though, so I thought nothing of it and went to bed.
Mr Barnes described his wife as ‘perfect’ in Facebook posts at the time of their 2014 wedding
Police are investigating what motivated Mr Barnes to allegedly kill his wife and then himself
‘When I woke up this morning and found out what had happened, I couldn’t really believe it to be honest.’
The couple had been living on the new estate, close to the site of the old MG Rover factory, for around five years, but it was not clear whether Barnes had already moved out prior to the apparent murder-suicide.
He does not appear alongside his wife in pictures from her sister Emily’s wedding last November posted on Facebook by relatives.
A neighbour of the dead couple said they seemed ‘well-matched and happy together’, while another added: ‘I’m still in complete shock. They were really friendly and I just feel so sad this had happened.’
It is believed Barnes took his own life in the back garden at the home of his parents. Mr and Mrs Barnes, who was said to be in poor health, were being supported by police liaison officers yesterday.
Police discovered Mrs Barnes, 32, at the couple’s new-build property in Rednal, Birmingham
Neighbours described hearing a burglar alarm briefly go off at the property on Monday night
Mrs Barnes’ parents, Val and Jeremy Shimell, 60, are separated but were being comforted by relatives, including Emily, at Mrs Shimell’s home in Rednal yesterday.
The 68-year-old broke down in tears when asked about her daughter, saying: ‘I’m sorry, I just can’t say anything.’
Her daughter worked at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, where Samantha Ellard, 22, first encountered the nurse on the neonatal ward following a premature delivery four years ago.
Miss Ellard, from Rednal, described Mrs Barnes as ‘the most caring person you could ever wish for’ and recalled the nurse’s excitement at her impending wedding.
‘From what she said about how much she loved him (James)’, Miss Ellard said, ‘it sounded as though they were a match made in heaven, which is why what’s happened is so hard to believe.’
The body of Mrs Barnes was found in the early hours of yesterday morning at the Rednal home
A commotion was heard less than two hours before Mrs Barnes was found in cardiac arrest
Miss Ellard tragically lost her daughter, Phoebe, just a few months after the birth due to bronchial pneumonia, but said Mrs Barnes stayed in touch with her and ‘really looked after me’.
She added: ‘That was above and beyond what you’d expect from someone in her position, so it says a lot about her that she was willing to do that.’
Barnes graduated from the University of Derby in 2010 with a degree in computer animation. He was nicknamed ‘Bucky’ on Facebook, after James Buchanan Bucky Barnes, the Marvel Comics character.
A spokesman for West Midlands Police said officers are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.
He added: ‘At this early stage it’s understood the woman was murdered before the man took his own life in the garden of the Streetly address.
‘Forensic post-mortems will take place in due course on the deceased, who were both aged in their 30s.’
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