6:23 PM

 Kathee Baird

April 22, 2023

One of the two men charged with Cassidy Rainwater-Paul's 2021 murder and kidnapping had his trial moved to Jasper County during a Change of Venue hearing yesterday in Dallas County

James Phelps' attorney, Tom Jacquinot, said in a motion hearing before Judge Jill Porter in January that the capital defense team wanted the case "moved out of the KY3 coverage area." Neither side is asking for a change of judge, but both sides agreed to a renewed objection to cameras being allowed in the courtroom at yesterday's hearing.  

If Judge Porter stays with the case, pre-trial motions leading up to the trial will be heard in Dallas County.

At the hearing in January, Dallas County Prosecutor Jonathan Barker asked that the court set a trial date "so it's not 2026 and we're hearing this case."  

"We're not going to jump this case," Jacquinot responded.  "Our office is stretched thin, we have a full caseload, and I'm probably going to retire."

Judge Porter set the case for trial yesterday for the summer of 2025...four years after Cassidy was murdered.

Phelps' alleged accomplice, Timothy Norton, is scheduled to appear in court early next month.


In August of 2021, a relative reported Cassidy missing and said she was last seen at a DFS meeting in Lebanon in early July.

On September 16th, 2021, the FBI passed a cyber-tip with photographs labeled "Cassidy" to Dallas County investigators.  The IP address from which the tip originated bounced off a tower in Germany, according to Dallas County Sheriff Scott Rice.

Timothy Norton

It would take authorities two more months to add murder charges to the already filed kidnapping charges against Timothy 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.  

Cassidy Rainwater


Norton told investigators that Phelps called him on July 24, 2021, and asked him to come to the cabin.  Once there, Norton held down Cassidy's legs while Phelps placed a bag over her head and strangled her, according to court documents.  Court documents also state that Norton helped Phelps carry Cassidy outside to a gantry crane, where she was disemboweled, and then to a 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.  

Norton, was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping Cassidy in late September of 2021 as he was leaving a Walmart in Lebanon, according to sources.  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 lived at the cabin for a time in 2019, 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.

Property that had been in Cassidy's family for several generations surrounding the cabin where she was allegedly murdered (and where some of her remains were found,) was sold recently.  A Dallas County resident bought a little over 200 acres of the Margaret Campbell-Rainwater property and another 40 acres adjacent to the property. 


It appears that all but about 25 acres that lead to the Niangua River, including the area where the Rainwater home once stood before it burned to the ground in an arson fire after the death of Cassidy's grandfather, Bill Rainwater, is for sale again, according to a listing at Whitetail Properties.

Margaret Campbell-Raiwater's family has retained about 4 acres of the old family homestead where a memorial garden for Mrs. Rainwater has been placed, according to Dallas County GIS records.