Man accused of killing, dismembering Cassidy Rainwater enters Alford plea

Posted at 12:10 PM, May 2, 2023 and last updated 10:00 PM, July 18, 2023


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 mugshot

FILE – This undated photo provided by Dallas County Sheriff’s Office in Buffalo, Missouri shows James Phelps. Phelps has been sentenced to life in prison without parole, Friday, April 28, 2023 for his role in the death of a woman who authorities said was kept in a cage and dismembered. (Dallas County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

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.


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