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TIMELINE: The death of Cassidy Rainwater in Dallas County, Mo.

The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office is leading a months-long investigation into the...
The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office is leading a months-long investigation into the disappearance of Cassidy Rainwater, an investigation that has taken multiple turns since September.(KY3)
Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 6:00 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 31, 2021 at 1:14 PM CDT
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DALLAS COUNTY, Mo. (KY3) - The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office is leading a months-long investigation into the killing of Cassidy Rainwater, an investigation that has taken multiple turns since September.

Investigators say Cassidy Rainwater, a 33-year old woman with ties to Dallas, Greene, and Laclede Counties, disappeared on July 25. She wasn’t reported missing to authorities until nearly one month later. On November 17, the Dallas County prosecutor filed first-degree murder charges against James Phelps and Timothy Norton for Rainwater’s death. The prosecutor also charged them with the abandonment of a corpse. They each faced kidnapping charges in Rainwater’s disappearance.

Sheriff Rice says investigators have not located any evidence leading them to believe there are any other victims associated with Phelps and Norton at this time.

Here is the most recent timeline of events in Rainwater’s disappearance and confirmed information in the investigation:

July 25, 2021

This was the last day anyone, including family members, reported seeing Cassidy Rainwater. Per court records, James Phelps told police the last time he saw Cassidy was on this day. He told authorities she left in the middle of the night and never came back.

According to additional court documents released in September, KY3 learned that Timothy Norton was called to the house by James Phelps one day earlier for help in restraining Cassidy Rainwater.

August 25, 2021

A family member contacted the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office saying they had not seen Rainwater or heard from her for an unspecified amount of time. That is when the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office opened the investigation into her disappearance.

September 16, 2021

The FBI contacted Dallas County Sheriff’s Office saying they had received an anonymous tip that Cassidy Rainwater was caged up on Phelps’ property.

When police followed up on this tip, they found seven photos on Phelps’ phone that led to his arrest. Phelps was arrested and sent to the Dallas County Jail, where he is currently in custody.

September 19, 2021

Police interviewed Timothy Norton on the disappearance of Rainwater. The address listed for him on online court systems and court documents showed the same address as James Phelps’ home on Moon Valley Road. He said he lived in his car because he was an overload trucker. Police found some inaccuracies in his story.

One day later, police brought back Norton to interview him again. Per court records, that is when he admitted to authorities restraining Cassidy Rainwater back in July. One day later, Timothy Norton was booked into the Dallas County Jail without bond.

September 21, 2021

A woman who knows Rainwater personally and knows of the suspects spoke with KY3 on the condition of anonymity. She said she can’t wrap her head around all of this.

“I’ve been incredibly unsettled since the whole Menagerie started,” she said. “I’m continuing to pray for her family. I can’t fathom what her family is experiencing and I’m heartily sorry that that happened so close to my home,”

The woman recalls Rainwater as being friendly.

“She would stop by, and she would talk to us when we were outside working. I don’t think Cassidy would have ever run off without keeping contact with her family,” she said.

September 23, 2021

Deputies searched around some properties in rural Dallas County, including the home connected to James Phelps on Moon Valley Road, for evidence in the investigation. After several hours, deputies departed from the scene, but no new findings in the investigation were released.

October 1, 2021

Investigators confirmed they are waiting for DNA evidence to return in the disappearance of Cassidy Rainwater. Dallas County Sheriff Scott Rice says it could be at least 30 days before any results are returned.

October 4, 2021

A home connected to Phelps near Lebanon, Missouri, was burned to the ground. The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office says Phelps had been renting the home.

A Dallas County deputy had alerted a firefighter after discovering a trip wire near the home. A call went out to bring in the Springfield Bomb Squad. Several hours later, the bomb squad detonated the suspicious device. Nobody was hurt from the fire.

Rachel Nicholson, who moved to Lebanon recently, said she saw the home go up in flames from a distance.

“All a sudden, the house collapsed and the flames got bigger. We could feel the heat,” said Nicholson. “Everything was on fire, and we sat there and watched it collapse. I called 911 because I was worried about it catching the woods on fire and spreading to the other houses.”

The Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating after the fire caused a total loss to the home.

October 5, 2021

Phelps and Norton appeared before a Dallas County judge via a webcam, both represented by different public defenders. During the hearing, prosecutors asked for 45 days until the preliminary hearing due to the number of witnesses needed.

The state asked for 45 days, but the defense objected based on state Supreme Court requirement that allows for only a 30-day period. Dallas County Prosecutor Jonathan Barker said that if he still isn’t ready to proceed after 30 days, he would file a motion for more time. A judge initially set a preliminary hearing in both for Nov. 5 at 9:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, investigators returned to the scene of the fire during daylight hours to analyze the area. Authorities were looking to figure out how the fire started and if there could be more tripwires than one spotted near the home.

We spoke to a woman who lives near the home. She asked us to conceal her identity for her protection.

“If these people have committed such horrible crimes as they are accused, I hope the legal system prosecutes them to the fullest extent,” said the woman. “I am very upset by it.”

October 7, 2021

Our team of reporters has been in constant contact with Dallas County Sheriff Scott Rice. However, no further details are being released pending forensic results.

In a Facebook post, Sheriff Rice addressed rumors in the investigation into the disappearance of Cassidy Rainwater. He wrote that he’s upset with social media and bloggers thinking they know what is happening and says “there is a lot of misinformation” circulating in the case.

October 12, 2021

In a Springfield Bomb Squad report, investigators said they found an incendiary device during a fire at the home connected to James Phelps.

The home on Moon Valley Road caught fire during the evening hours of Oct. 4. In the report, investigators claim they found the explosive device in a mortar tube with a balloon cover, which featured tripwires. The Springfield Bomb Squad removed the device, and no firefighters were injured in battling the fire or handling the device.

October 15, 2021

Investigators with the Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office concluded that an Oct. 4 house fire at the center of a kidnapping case in Dallas County was a result of arson.

Investigators ruled the fire as “undetermined” and “criminal.” James Phelps, one of two kidnapping suspects charged in the disappearance of Cassidy Rainwater, had previously rented the home.

October 29, 2021

Attorneys filed a motion to request a change in the case of James Phelps, one of two men accused in the kidnapping of Cassidy Rainwater.

Prior to the request, a preliminary hearing in Phelps’ case was scheduled for Nov. 5, 2021. Dallas County Judge Lisa Henderson was expected to hear the cases of Phelps and Timothy Norton, a second kidnapping suspect.

According to court records, attorneys for Timothy Norton filed a motion to address his bond and possibly seek a release from jail. As of Friday, this motion has not been approved.

No additional charges have yet been filed in the case. Our team of reporters has been in constant contact with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, but no further details are being released pending forensic results.

Oct. 30, 2021

A judge has approved a request for a new judge in the case of James Phelps, a man at the center of the high-profile kidnapping case in Dallas County.

A new judge is waiting to be assigned to the case. Due to the change in judge, a preliminary hearing scheduled for Nov. 5 in Phelps’ case has been canceled.

November 1, 2021

Judge John C. Porter will hear the case of James Phelps, a man at the center of a high-profile kidnapping case in Dallas County.

November 17, 2021

The Dallas County prosecutor charged Phelps and Norton with first-degree murder in the death of Rainwater.

Investigators say Norton admitted Phelps asked him to help kill Rainwater while she was staying at Phelps’s home. Investigators say Norton admitted to holding down Rainwater’s legs while Phelps strangled her. Investigators say they dismembered her body in a bathtub. Investigators found the remains in a freezer. In total, more than 200 pieces of evidence were recovered at the home.

November 19, 2021

Dallas County Judge John C. Porter denied bond for James Phelps. He remains jailed in Dallas County.

Sheriff Rice says investigators have not located any evidence leading them to believe there are any other victims associated with Phelps and Norton at this time. Sheriff Rice says this is an ongoing investigation. If there is anyone who believes they may information concerning this case, they can call investigators at the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office at 417-345-2441.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

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