Missouri State Fire Marshal rules fire at home of kidnapping in Dallas County as arson

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 2:13 PM CDT
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NEAR LEBANON, Mo. (KY3) - Investigators with the Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office concluded the fire at a home at the center of a kidnapping case in Dallas County was arson.

The home on Moon Valley Road between Lebanon and Buffalo caught fire on the evening of October 4. Investigators ruled the fire as “undetermined” and “criminal.”

Sheriff Scott Rice said the home was a total loss after the fire. Investigators found an explosive device in a mortar tube with a balloon cover. It featured tripwires. The Springfield Bomb Squad removed the device. No firefighter was injured in battling the fire.

James Phelps, 58, had been renting the home. Phelps and Timothy Norton, 56, also of Lebanon, face charges of first-degree kidnapping in the disappearance of Cassidy Rainwater.

KY3 News first broke the news of the case in mid-September. FBI investigators contacted detectives in Dallas County saying they received photos from an anonymous person showing Rainwater in a cage. Investigators say a detective recognized Rainwater in a partially nude state. After searching Phelps’ phone, officials discovered seven photos of Rainwater. According to detectives, Rainwater had been staying with Phelps while she got on her feet. Investigators say Phelps claims she had left in the middle of the night at the end of July and he had not seen her since then.

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