09/18/2013 at 07:25 AM EDT
It was October 2011 when Levi Blasdel put two of his friends together: Jordan Graham, a child-care worker looking to settle down and have kids, and Cody Johnson, Blasdel's buddy who wanted a down-to-earth girl to marry and start a family.
By the time Johnson proposed, however, Blasdel and others feared Graham's commitment to the relationship had faded, and they cautioned against marriage. Then Johnson put his foot down.
"He was like, 'Look, I know you don't understand, but she makes me happy,' " Blasdel recalls hearing his friend say.
Eight days after their June 29 wedding in a park in Kalispell, Mont., doubts roared anew when Johnson, 25, vanished and the stories from his newlywed bride, 22, started to conflict. "At that point," says Blasdel, "red flags are flying."
Eventually Graham confessed – according to a criminal complaint accusing her of murder
– and said she and her new husband had argued before she pushed him off a cliff to his death in Glacier National Park.
Arrested Sept. 9, she was freed
pending grand jury charges. Her attorney says she's innocent.
Friends of the couple now wonder about the quiet young woman they thought they knew, and if the idea of marriage proved more enticing to her than actually tying the knot.
Friends are now trying to sift fact from fiction, asking, as Johnson's pal Cameron Fredrickson says, "Is she giving us all the information?"
For more on the sensational story of the new husband's death, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday