James Phelps and Timothy Norton have been charged with the murder of Missouri woman Cassidy Rainwater. The woman was last seen at Phelps’ Missouri home in July and officially reported missing Aug. 25.
The two men are scheduled to appear in Dallas County Circuit Court soon. Norton will appear in court 3 p.m. next Tuesday and Phelps will appear at 1:30 p.m. this Friday. They are both being charged with kidnapping and murder charges along with the abandonment of a corpse.
According to Timothy Norton’s attorney, the 56-year-old is planning on pleading not guilty despite confessing to police that he killed Cassidy Rainwater.
“We expected these charges to be filed and Mr. Norton will be entering pleas of not guilty to these allegations,” Attorney Branden Twibell said. “Additionally, our firm will continue to review and investigate any potential evidence we receive from the prosecutor’s office.”
Attorneys for James Phelps have not said what way the 58-year-old will plead. The two men have been in jail on kidnapping charges since the middle of September.
Phelps had originally told police on Aug. 25 that Cassidy Rainwater had been staying at his place temporarily, but left sometime in July when she got into a strange truck that had parked at the end of the driveway. He told officers that he thought she was in Colorado.
James Phelps lived at 386 Moon Valley Road, near Windyville, Missouri. After he was arrested for the kidnapping and murder charges, his property burned down on October 4. Police believe that the cause of the fire was arson after they found two homemade explosive devices on the property connected to trip wires.
When Dallas County police still believed it to be a missing person’s case, many rumors about Cassidy Rainwater and potential cannibalism were being posted on TikTok. Many users blamed the police department for not solving the case quickly.
The Sheriff’s office took to Facebook and fought back against the rumors. They said, “It is not a good idea to listen to “a crime reporter/blogger “or Tic Tok videos that is sitting in their apartment or their mommy and daddy’s basement eating Great Value cheese puffs and drinking box wine with grand intentions of being a social media superstar. If you are hanging on very word is this type of crap, believing it to be fact, you are living in a fantasy world. This isn’t a tv series or movie where we go to commercial break and have lab results in 15 minutes.”
Some are calling for the department to apologize since some of the rumors are now true.
The FBI were alerted about the murder on Sept. 16 when an anonymous tip sent them photos of what appeared to be Rainwater’s half-naked body locked in a cage. Those pictures eventually led them to Phelps and Norton.
The police were also given photos of Rainwater’s body hanging from a gantry crane, which is a metal structure used to hang up deer and other wild animals after hunting. Additional photos show her body being disemboweled and then cut into pieces. Parts of her body were later found in Phelps’ freezer, labelled 7/24.
According to Timothy Norton, Phelps called him over for the murder so they could have easy access to Rainwater when she was sleeping. Norton held her feet while Phelps strangled her and placed a bag over her head. The two men then took a break before bringing the body outside.
Norton told police that, “Phelps bound her to the gantry crane and Phelps began evisceration and dismemberment of Cassidy’s body. Norton stated he helped Phelps carry Cassidy’s body into the house and placed her into the bathtub,” according to a statement by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office.
During the officer’s search of the home, they found many items that pointed at Phelps and Norton for the crime. They found the gantry crane along with messages between the pair that talked about planning the young woman’s murder. Officers later found human bones that matched Rainwater’s DNA. The human flesh in the freezer also matched the Missouri woman’s DNA.
Dallas County Police are continuing their investigation into the murder of Cassidy Rainwater and are asking anyone with information to call the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office at 417-345-2441.