January 24, 2022
|Timothy L. Norton|
The lawyer for Timothy L. Norton, who is accused of kidnapping and murdering Cassidy Rainwater-Paul last summer, has waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
Attorney John Thomas Kirsch entered that request today electronically--conceding that the state has enough evidence to proceed to trial, according to online court records.
It is unclear from that entry whether Norton will still appear in court on February 2nd. Whenever he makes his appearance it will be via Polycom, according to entry.
In August of 2021, a relative reported Cassidy Rainwater-Paul missing and said she was last seen at a DFS meeting in Lebanon in early July.
The FBI passed along a cyber-tip with photographs labeled "Cassidy" to Dallas County investigators on September 16, 2021. Dallas County authorities say they had been out at the cabin a couple of times prior to the FBI tip looking for Cassidy.
Phelps told investigators that Cassidy had been living in the loft area of the cabin on a desolate rural country road and that he had been "helping her get back on her feet." Phleps claimed that she met a car at the end of his driveway in the middle of the night in late July and he hadn't seen or heard from her since then.
Norton was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping Cassidy in late September as he was leaving a Walmart. His alleged accomplice, James D. Phelps, was charged with the same offense a few days prior to Norton's arrest.
It would take authorities two more months to add murder charges against Norton and James Phelps for Cassidy's death. Pictures on Phelps' phone allegedly show a partially nude Cassidy being held in a cage and tortured within the cabin and tied to a gantry crane outside, where she was disemboweled.
Norton told investigators that Phelps called him on July 24, 2021, to come to the cabin to hold Cassidy's legs down while he placed a bag over her head and strangled her. He said he also helped Phelps carry her out to the gantry crane and then back to the bathtub in the cabin where she was dismembered.
Investigators found bags of Cassidy's flesh inside a freezer in the cabin. The bags were dated 7/24 and had her initials on them. Cassidy's ex-boyfriend says he, and the children they shared, were swabbed for DNA and that's how her remains were identified.
Dallas County Sheriff Scott Rice says Norton and Phelps had been planning Cassidy's murder for a couple of months.
Dallas County prosecutor Jonathan Barker said in a court hearing last year that Norton and Phelps would troll for victims online and at Walmart's.
In early October of 2021, the cabin on Moon Valley Road burned to the ground. The fire has been ruled arson and there have been no arrests made in connection to that incident.
Dalton Chaffin, who is Norton's step-nephew and lived at the cabin for a brief time, says there was only one bathtub in the cabin. A bathtub was in the fire rubble after the blaze. Whether or not it is the bathtub that Cassidy was dismembered in is not known at this time.
Investigators are said to be interested in a Native American religion or rituals that the men were involved with, according to sources.
One of the first motions Norton's attorney is expected to file will be for a change of venue.
A preliminary hearing for Phelps is scheduled to be heard in Dallas County on February 4th. It is expected that his attorneys will also waive that hearing and admit that the state has enough evidence to proceed to trial in that case as well.
Update--January 28, 2022:
James Phelps' preliminary hearing that was scheduled for February 4th was canceled during a conference call today. Attorneys will meet in Dallas County on February 18th to reschedule a new prelim date, according to online court records.
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