One of the two men who was charged in the 2021 kidnapping and murder of a Missouri woman who was kept in a cage and then dismembered, was sentenced last Friday to life in prison without parole after pleading guilty, the Associated Press reported.
Last Friday, 60-year-old James Phelps entered an Alford plea to kidnapping, first-degree murder, and abandonment of a corpse in the death of Cassie Rainwater, 33. Under the terms of an Alford plea, Phelps did not have to admit guilt, only acknowledge that there was enough evidence to convict him at trial.
Dallas County Judge Jill Porter quickly sentenced Phelps to life without parole.
Phelps, along with a second man Timothy Norton, was charged in September 2021 after DNA tests on remains found at Phelps’ Dallas County, Missouri home were identified as Cassie Rainwater.
According to authorities, the men were initially charged with kidnapping after a tipster alerted the FBI that there were photos on Phelps’ phone showing a partially nude Rainwater in a cage. Dallas County Sheriff Scott Rice revealed at the time of their arrest that Phelps’ phone also contained photos showing Rainwater’s nude body being dismembered and disemboweled.
Cassie Rainwater was reported missing in August 2021. The woman reporting her disappearance revealed that she last saw Rainwater with James Phelps. In two separate interviews, Phelps told investigators that Rainwater had been staying with him, but she had left for Colorado.
But when investigators searched Phelps’ property, they found some of Rainwater’s remains stored in a freezer. Other body parts were discovered on a nearby property.
Phelps’ house was later burned down in what investigators ruled as arson.
Phelps’ accomplice Timothy Norton is facing the same charges. He was scheduled to appear at a court hearing on Tuesday.