Two men in Missouri allegedly kept a woman in a cage before murdering her and dismembering the body, authorities said.
On Aug. 25, around six weeks after she was last seen alive, a person reported Cassidy Rainwater missing to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office and said James D. Phelps was the last one to see her alive.
According to the sheriff’s office, Phelps told a detective that Rainwater had been staying with him at his home in Lebanon “until she got back on her feet, and she had been there for a couple of weeks.”
Phelps allegedly claimed Rainwater had been talking about going to Colorado and around the time she went missing she “met a vehicle at the end of the driveway and left in the middle of the night.”
Phelps claimed he had not seen her since.
On Sept. 15, the FBI contacted Dallas County Sheriff Scott Rice and shared multiple photographs a tipster had sent to the agency. “The photos depicted a partially clothed female in a cage who we recognized as Cassidy,” officials said. “The other photos depicted Cassidy’s body bound to a gantry crane, commonly used for deer processing, and her evisceration and dismemberment.”
Authorities arrested Phelps and obtained a search warrant for his property and over the next seven days collected over 200 pieces of evidence, the sheriff’s office said, including the gantry device, cage, digital messages between Phelps and a second suspect, Timothy Norton, “planning the murder” of Rainwater, and the victim’s flesh in a freezer dated July 24.
On Sept. 20, FBI agents interviewed Norton, who allegedly confessed to the murder. According to the sheriff’s office, Norton told the FBI Cassidy was sleeping on Phelp’s living room floor when Phelps had him come over.
“Norton stated, after entering the house, he held Cassidy’s legs down while Phelps strangled her and placed a bag over her head,” the sheriff’s office said.
Once she was dead, the two men allegedly “bound her to the gantry crane and Phelps began evisceration and dismemberment of Cassidy’s body,” the sheriff’s office said. “Norton stated he helped Phelps carry Cassidy’s body into the house and placed her into the bathtub.”
Previously charged in September with kidnapping, Phelps and Norton now face additional charges of first-degree murder, and abandonment of a corpse. Authorities believe Rainwater is the only victim associated with the two suspects.