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Missouri Woman Strangled to Death by Two Men who later Dismembered Her Body: Cops Busted Killers after Anonymous Tip

Missouri Woman Strangled to Death by Two Men who later Dismembered Her Body: Cops Busted Killers after Anonymous Tip

Authorities were alerted to Cassidy Rainwater’s cruel fate through anonymously submitted photos. They portrayed her confined in a cage and partially unclothed.

A friend who hadn’t seen Rainwater for six weeks reported her missing in the area of Lebanon, Mo. in August 2021, as stated in a probable cause statement from the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the police, a friend reported that Rainwater was last seen in the company of a man who was later identified as James Phelps. In September 1, the police conducted an interview with Phelps, who mentioned that Rainwater had been staying with him temporarily while she worked on improving her situation.

Additionally, he claimed that she had departed in the middle of the night for Colorado approximately a month ago.

Two weeks later, the case took a dramatic turn when the FBI alerted the sheriff’s office about an anonymous tip. The tip included a set of photos labeled “Cassidy,” as reported by PEOPLE.

A series of photographs depicted a woman confined within a cage, according to authorities who described her as easily identifiable as Rainwater. More images revealed the gruesome scene of Cassidy’s body being dismembered, with her limbs secured to a gantry crane commonly used for hunting.

Phelps was arrested on Sept. 16, and his property in Lebanon was searched by the police, as stated in the probable cause statement. Remains of Rainwater were discovered on a neighboring property.

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During the investigation of Phelps’ electronic devices, including his cell phone, authorities uncovered a series of messages between Phelps and another individual named Timothy Norton. These messages revealed a disturbing conversation about their intentions to harm Rainwater on July 24, as stated in the probable cause statement.

During the investigation, Norton was interviewed and admitted to the murder of Rainwater. He stated that Phelps had requested him to visit and carry out the act. According to Norton, Rainwater was found sleeping on the floor of Phelps’ cabin when the attackers assaulted her. They reportedly placed a bag over her head and strangled her to death, as stated. Norton proceeded to recount his involvement in helping Phelps dismember her lifeless body.

Norton and Phelps face charges of first-degree murder in relation to the violent death of Rainwater. In April 2023, Phelps accepted an Alford plea, indicating his acknowledgment of the sufficient evidence against him, while refraining from pleading guilty. Court records indicate that he has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In June 2023, Norton pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was given an identical sentence to Phelps. The motive for the murder has not been disclosed by authorities.

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