Missouri Pair Allegedly Kidnapped Woman, Held Her Captive In Cage, Authorities Say

An anonymous tipster reportedly sent the FBI a photo of the victim restrained and partially nude.

October 15, 2021
Cassidy Rainwater has blonde hair and is wearing black frame glasses and a black headband standing in front of a blue background

Cassidy Rainwater

Photo by: Dallas County Sheriff's Office

Dallas County Sheriff's Office

Cassidy Rainwater

By: Aaron Rasmussen
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Two Missouri men are accused of kidnapping a woman over the summer and holding her captive in a cage on a rundown Ozarks property, authorities said.

Cassidy Rainwater, 33, vanished last July and family filed a missing person’s report late the following month. A Dallas County Sheriff’s Office deputy investigating Rainwater’s disappearance determined she was last in contact with James D. Phelps, 58.

Phelps allegedly claimed in an interview that the missing woman had been living in a loft on his rented 3-acre Lebanon property “until she could get back on her feet” — but he said she was no longer there.

“James told me she was talking about going to Colorado,” the deputy wrote in a probable cause document, according to The Kansas City Star.

Phelps allegedly also claimed Rainwater met a vehicle at the end of his driveway in the middle of the night and that was the last time he heard from her, according to court documents.

None of Rainwater’s personal possessions were in the loft and it appeared “stripped,” investigators noted.

In mid-September, the court documents state, an anonymous tipster sent the FBI office in Kansas City a photo of Rainwater partially nude and in a cage, and the agents contacted Dallas County law enforcement officials. Deputies seized Phelps’ cell phone after taking him into custody and they allegedly discovered seven photos showing Rainwater restrained in the cage.

The sheriff’s office then questioned a second man, 56-year-old Timothy L. Norton, in connection to Rainwater’s disappearance. Court documents obtained by the Springfield News-Leader allege Norton told investigators Phelps asked for his help restraining Rainwater and that Norton went to his property and “did physically confine” the woman by “holding her down for a substantial period of time.”

Phelps and Norton are being held without bond on charges of first-degree kidnapping, facilitating a felony, inflicting injury, and terrorizing. The co-defendants are scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing in Dallas County Circuit Court on November 5.

Dallas County Sheriff Scott Rice told The Kansas City Star on October 13 that more charges possibly could be filed against the pair in the coming months pending forensic test results. He declined to reveal further details about the alleged kidnapping, including whether or not Rainwater was located.

“We’re trying to protect the integrity of the case and make sure that we have a good and just trial,” Rice explained. “We don’t want to taint any possible jurors with, you know, the facts of the case getting out before they should get out.”

The cabin Phelps was living in before his arrest burned to the ground on October 4. The Springfield Fire Department found two incendiary devices constructed from mortar tubes, coiled fuzes and balloons as well as a tripwire, WDAF-TV reported.