Court filings in missing woman case reveal gruesome details; Two men involved are now charged with her murder

Joplin News First

Read actual court documents that reveal what detectives have known all along.

DALLAS COUNTY, Mo. Court documents revealed this week what investigators have known since September 16, 2021. That the missing woman, Cassidy Rainwater was murdered and dismembered on the Moon Valley property. 

A September 16, 2021 search warrant on the property at Moon Valley allowed authorities to gain access to electronic devices. Investigation revealed James Phelps and Timothy Norton exchanged text messages, they had conspired to kill Rainwater. 

The exchange is detailed in PC affidavits filed this week which brought both men the following charges:

  • Kidnapping 
  • Murder 1st
  • Abandonment of a Corpse

The following is the timeline of the investigation outlined by date. Warning the following details from the court filing are gruesome. 

August 25, 2021: The investigation began with a tip from a friend, Cora Terry. She told Dallas County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Darren Cheek that Rainwater was last seen six weeks prior in the company of James Phelps at 386 Moon Valley Road, rural Lebanon, Missouri. 

August 25, 2021: That same day Cora Terry told authorities of her concern for Cassidy, Dallas County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Clark responded to 386 Moon Valley Road, “to perform a well being check on Cassidy, but never located any sign of Cassidy.” 

WARNING THE COURT DOCUMENTS CONTAIN GRISLY DETAILS RELATED TO A GRUESOME CRIME. WILL BE DISTURBING TO MOST FOLLOWERS.

September 1, 2021: Sgt R. Simmons responded to 386 Moon Valley Road and spoke to James Phelps. According to Phelps, “Cassidy had been staying with him until she could get back on her feet. Phelps told me she had been staying there for a couple of weeks. Phelps told me she was talking about going to Colorado. Phelps stated about a month prior to this date, Cassidy had left in the middle of the night. She had met with a vehicle at the end of the driveway in the dark and he has not seen or heard from her since.” 

September 16, 2021: The case then broke open with another tip. This time an anonymous cyber tip to the FBI in Kansas City. According to Dallas County Sgt Simmons, “The FBI provided investigators with a series of photographs. These photographs were a series of photos titled ‘Cassidy’ by the person who sent the tip. The series of photographs depicted a partially clothed female in a cage who was immediately recognizable as Cassidy. The remaining photographs depicted Cassidy’s body bound to a gantry crane device (commonly used for processing wild game), and her evisceration and dismemberment.” 

MISSING PERSON, CASSIDY RAINWATER, 33. BACKGROUND, 386 MOON RIVER ROAD PROPERTY WHER SHE WAS LAST SEEN. NEW COURT DOCUMENTS ALLEGE SHE WAS MURDERED AND DISMEMBERED THERE.

September 16, 2021: That same day Sgt Simmons went to the residence again at 386 Moon Valley Road. He determined visually it was the same scene from photographs provided by the FBI. At that time, James Phelps was arrested and transported to the Dallas County jail. 

Then Dallas County investigators applied for a search warrant of the property. 

“The Dallas County Sheriff’s office, along with assistance from the FBI and the Greene County Sheriff’s office crime scene unit, executed the search warrants.  Over the next week investigators processed the entire crime scene. During the processing of the crime scene physical evidence was located including the gantry crane located behind the residence. Located inside of the residence was potential blood evidence and items from the freezer that appeared to be human flesh dated 07-24. These items were sent to the crime lab for testing, which the lab confirmed to be consistent with Cassidy‘s DNA. Skeletal remains believed to be Cassity were located on the adjacent property where Phelps had disposed of them. Investigators were also able to locate digital evidence on electronic devices seized. This digital evidence was sent to the computer forensics lab to be analyzed. While being analyzed, messages between James Phelps and Timothy Norton were uncovered planning the murder of Cassidy on July 24, 2021.”

The following day investigators attempted to interview James Phelps who was in custody. “During this interview Phelps invoked his right to an attorney and refused to answer any questions.”

WARNING THE COURT DOCUMENTS CONTAIN GRISLY DETAILS RELATED TO A GRUESOME CRIME. WILL BE DISTURBING TO MOST FOLLOWERS.

September 20, 2021: Investigators met with Timothy Norton at the Dallas County Sheriff’s office. “During this interview, Norton subsequently confessed to the murder of Cassidy. Norton told agents that Phelps asked Norton to come over while Cassidy was still sleeping. Norton stated that Phelps had Cassidy sleep on the floor by the front door of the cabin so they had easy access to attack Cassidy.  Norton stated he held her legs down while Phelps strangled her and placed a bag over her head. Norton stated that after Cassidy was deceased he and Phelps took a short break before carrying her body outside. Norton stated that Phelps then bound her to the gantry crane, and Phelps began the evisceration and dismemberment of Cassidy‘s body. Norton then helped Phelps carry Cassidy‘s dismembered body in the residence and placed her body into the bathroom tub.” After the interview Norton was arrested for the kidnapping and murder of Cassidy Rainwater. 

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