By IVY BROWN
DALLAS COUNTY, Mo. (Court TV) — A Missouri man accused of killing and dismembering a missing woman entered an Alford plea and was sentenced to life in prison Friday, reports local news.
James Phelps was charged with first-degree murder in the 2021 death of 33-year-old Cassidy Rainwater.
Phelps was arrested Sept. 16, 2021, two months after Rainwater was last seen alive, according to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office.
A missing person report alerted authorities that Rainwater was last seen with Phelps, who claimed Rainwater took off for Colorado after staying with him for a few weeks.
During the investigation, the FBI received a cyber-tip that included photos which “depicted a partially clothed female in a cage,” who was recognized as Rainwater. Other photos “depicted (her) body bound to a gantry crane, commonly used for deer processing, and her evisceration and dismemberment.”
Investigators say Phelps strangled and suffocated Rainwater in his home while alleged co-conspirator Timothy Norton held her down. The men then allegedly bound her body to a gantry crane and dismembered her remains.
Some of Rainwater’s remains were found in a freezer and dated “7-24,” according to authorities. Her skeletal remains were also found on the property.