Murder charges filed in case of missing woman in cage after remains found and identified


Buffalo, Missouri: The Dallas County prosecutor's office announced yesterday that new charges were being filed against James Phelps and Timothy Norton after remains located on Phelps' property were positively identified as those of Cassidy Rainwater.


Phelps and Norton are now being charged with first-degree murder and abandonment of a corpse. Both had previously been charged with kidnapping and have remained in custody since their arrests in September.


Phelps is scheduled to appear in court on November 19, and Norton has a court date scheduled for November 23.


Dallas County Sheriff Scott Rice indicates that investigators have not found reason to believe that there are any other victims of Phelps and Norton at this time, but Rice indicated that the investigation was ongoing.


Anyone with information is asked to contact the Dallas County Sheriff's Office at (417) 345-2441.


WDAF spoke with Katie Heflin, a local business owner.


"It's horrible but as a community even though we didn't know her we're still praying for her family and we know she had kids. We're all praying for them. No matter what she did, she didn't deserve that. No matter what had happened," she said.


She also addressed concerns though, with how the investigation was handled by the Sheriff's department. "I don't think he [Sheriff Rice] was being truthful... to say that 99.9% of the rumors were false when what came out today confirmed 75% of them, that means only 25% of the rumors were false. So it's very concerning to all of us," Heflin said.


Those rumors Heflin referenced dealt with the dismemberment and consumption of human remains as well as the discovery of meat hooks on the Phelps' property.


Sheriff Rice's statement on Facebook indicated that investigators had located a gantry device commonly used for processing wildlife, on the property as well as what "appeared to be human flesh with a date written on them of 7/24" from a freezer on the property.


Through DNA analysis, the remains found in the freezer were confirmed to be those of 33-year-old Cassidy Rainwater, as well as the skeletal remains that were located on an adjacent property which reportedly formerly belonged to Cassidy's grandfather.


On September 20 agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed Norton, three days after Phelps refused to answer questions and invoked his right to an attorney.


During that conversation Norton told investigators that Phelps had requested his assistance while Cassidy slept on the living room floor.


He proceeded to tell investigators that he had held her legs down while Phelps strangled her and placed a plastic bag over her head. Once she was dead, he had assisted Phelps in taking her body outside and binding her to the gantry crane.


According to Norton's statement, Phelps then began to eviscerate and dismember Cassidy's body. Once completed, Norton assisted with carrying the body parts back into the home and placing them in a bathtub.


In addressing the criticism over rumors and the department's handling of the case, Sheriff Rice said, "If they think they can do a better job then maybe they should become a cop. We cannot talk about our investigation until we get all the facts and present them to the prosecutor and the judge. Even now there are more facts that cannot come out until court."



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