Community reacts to Cassidy Rainwater’s death after Missouri sheriff called rumors ‘CRAP’

Missouri

LEBANON, Mo. — According to court documents, Cassidy Rainwater’s remains have been found on a property belonging to two men accused of kidnapping her and keeping her in a cage.

James Phelps and Timothy Norton have been charged with first-degree murder. They are also facing charges for the abandonment of a corpse.

The news comes after months of speculation about her death.

On September 16, Dallas County Sheriff’s deputies and FBI agents served a warrant at the home of James Phelps looking for 33-year-old Cassidy Rainwater in a rural area about three and a half hours southeast of Kansas City. The missing woman was last seen in July.

Two days later, the sheriff’s office announced 58-year-old James Phelps had been arrested for her kidnapping. Three days after that Timothy Norton would face the same charge.

The sheriff’s office said additional details couldn’t be released because of the extreme nature of the crime.

“There were too many rumors and they were so bizarre there was no way for it not to be true,” Dallas County resident Katie Heflin said.

In October, Sheriff Scott Rice posted on Facebook addressing what he called “Fake News” blasting bloggers eating cheese puffs and drinking box wine saying 99.999999% of the rumors were inaccurate.

“There is a lot of misinformation and rumors regarding the Cassidy Rainwater case being circulated across social media and various news platforms. While I understand the impatience and curiosity of the people, I’m going to give you a piece of advice. It is not a good idea to listen to “a crime reporter/blogger “or Tic Tok (sic) videos that is sitting in their apartment or their mommy and daddy’s basement eating Great Value cheese puffs and drinking box wine with grand intentions of being a social media superstar. If you are hanging on every word is this type of crap, believing it to be fact, you are living in a fantasy world. This isn’t a TV series or movie where we go to commercial break and have lab results in 15 minutes. Searching a crime scene for 7 days 24 hours a day takes that long, 168 hours. 99.999999% of what has been posted to social media is CRAP,” Sheriff Rice wrote in the post.

Wednesday court documents reveal September 16 the FBI received photos of Cassidy Rainwater in a cage partially nude and bound to a device used to dismember her body. That same day the documents show during that search they found the device and evidence of Rainwater’s death in a freezer dated July 24.

They also found messages between Phelps and Norton planning the murder July 24. According to investigators, Norton confessed they strangled her.

Sheriff’s office staff said Rice wasn’t in the office Wednesday to address concerns from some members of the community about how the ongoing investigation was handled.

“It definitely gave us a false sense of security where we thought it was safe to go about our business and everything was fine and all these rumors were false and totally blown out of proportion and it really makes you question what else is going on that we don’t know about. We’re all scared everybody is.”

The sheriff’s office said through a Facebook post after the document release “We have not located any evidence that would lead us to believe there are other victims associated with Phelps and Norton at this time. This is still 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.”

Norton has a criminal hearing scheduled for Nov. 23, and Phelps will appear in court on Nov. 19.

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