EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Dallas County sheriff explains what’s next in case of Cassidy Rainwater

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 11:10 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2021 at 9:31 PM CST
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BUFFALO, Mo. (KY3) - Dallas County Sheriff Scott Rice talked to KY3 News in an exclusive interview Thursday for the first time since the arrests of two men in the death of Cassidy Rainwater.

Sheriff Rice confirmed to KY3 News on Wednesday that DNA tests performed on a body found on the property of James Phelps confirm the death of Cassidy Rainwater.

The Dallas County Prosecutor’s Office filed new first-degree murder charges Wednesday against James Phelps and Timothy Norton in Rainwater’s death. The prosecutor also charged them with the abandonment of a corpse. Both were previously charged with kidnapping in Rainwater’s disappearance.

James Phelps and Timothy Norton.
James Phelps and Timothy Norton.(Dallas County Sheriff's Office)

The investigation began a cousin of Cassidy Rainwater filed a missing persons report in August. Several weeks later, in mid-September, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office received a tip from the FBI in her disappearance. The tip was a file titled “Cassidy,” and according to court documents, it included photos of her partially nude and in a cage.

The tip was anonymous to everyone, including law enforcement.

“Anonymous to me, it’s also anonymous to the FBI,” said Sheriff Rice. “They have worked really hard to try to figure out a way to find out who sent that tip, and we don’t know who [offered the tip]. We just know, the tip came from Germany,” said Rice.

Investigators say Norton admitted that Phelps asked him to help kill Rainwater while she was staying at Phelps’ home. Investigators say Norton admitted to holding down Rainwater’s legs while Phelps strangled her.

According to court documents, investigators say they dismembered her body in a bathtub. Investigators found the remains in a Phelps’ freezer. In total, more than 200 pieces of evidence were recovered at the home. Investigators found Rainwater’s remains on the property of Rainwater’s grandfather, who died several years ago.

According to court documents, digital evidence showed the two men had planned to kill Cassidy Rainwater. Sheriff Rice confirms that and said the evidence showed they had been planning it for months.

Sheriff Rice has made it clear he is upset about rumors that circulated about the case.

“We cannot talk about our investigation until we get all the facts and present them to the prosecutor and the judge,” said Sheriff Rice. “Even now, there are more facts that cannot come out until court.”

Sheriff Rice says investigators want to know more about the driver of a Pontiac Grand Prix detected near a fire at Phelps’ house in early October. Phelps and Norton were jailed at the time of the fire.

James Phelps is scheduled to appear in court Friday.

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 have information concerning this case, they should 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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