10:39 PM

June 27, 2023

By: Kathee Baird

Cassidy Rainwater

Timothy Norton pled guilty to first-degree murder charges for his part in the July 2021 murder of Cassidy Rainwater-Paul.

Norton was also facing kidnapping and abandonment of a corpse charges, but those were dismissed pursuant to the plea agreement.  Dallas County Judge Lisa Henderson sentenced Norton to life without the possibility of parole at today's hearing.

Norton's co-defendant, James Phelps, entered an Alford Plea earlier this year. He was also sentenced to life without parole.  

Dallas County Prosecutor Jonathan Barker told the court that there was a "vast amount" of digital evidence collected in this case that was sifted through by experts who concluded that there were no other victims pictured on computer hard drives, cell phones, and other digital media collected as evidence.  

Barker also stated that claims made by Dallas County Sheriff Scott Rice in a television interview that a deputy recognized trees in the background of some of the pictures from the FBI tip of Cassidy's murder, disembowelment, and dismemberment as the property where Phelps was living and that he had been to in the search for Cassidy were "misleading." 
The reason Phelps and Norton killed Cassidy; they believed she had stolen some things from them and they wanted them back.
After today's hearing, Norton sat down for an exclusive interview with KY3's Marina Silva where he admitted that he deserves to die.

“I deserve to die, and I am ready for that,” said Norton just after the court appearance.

”It’s not right to take life. Everybody harps me. You know, I’m a monster of a Monster Monster.”

He says things went “sideways.”

“Just kind of happened. It seems like I told somebody else once. It kind of went sideways,” said Norton.

He claims Phelps strangled Cassidy.

”The next thing I know, he was choking her, and things were going sideways. If you looked into his eyes, that would have been the last thing you know I wanted to do was cross him at that point in time. I know he’s got a temper,” said Norton.

Norton was not emotional through his court appearances and says he is still numb.

“Maybe later tonight I’ll, when I go to sleep, I’ll cry. You know you can talk to my kids, you can talk to my, you know, my exes. Most of my emotions come out when I’m asleep,” said Norton.

Cassidy's aunt, Cora Terry who reported her missing, gave the victim impact statement for Cassie's kids and family members.  "When you and James made the decision to kill Cassidy you ruined six kids' lives and you took her from her family who loved her."

Terry spoke on behalf of Cassidy's six children who have either been adopted or are being raised by family members.  All of them said they hoped to have a relationship with her one day.

"You're the reason that children think there are monsters under the bed," one of the children said.

"God wants me to forgive you," said another.  "NOT TODAY!" 


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.  

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.  

James Phelps

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.

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.

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