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Home of man accused in Cassidy Rainwater disappearance burns down

The Missouri home where missing Cassidy Rainwater was allegedly kept half naked in a cage by two men, has been gutted in a blaze as the homeowner sits in jail awaiting trial.

James Phelps, 58, and Timothy L. Norton, 56, are charged with kidnapping, facilitating a felony, inflicting injury, and terrorizing in connection to the July 24 disappearance of Rainwater, 33.

Phelps was arrested on September 16 after investigators say they found seven photos on his phone showing Rainwater partially nude and being held in a cage at his Moon Valley Road residence in Lebanon. Police arrested Norton, an over-the-road trucker, four days later after it was learned that he helped Phelps restrain the victim. 

On Monday, as both men sit in jail awaiting trial, the house of horrors where Rainwater was allegedly held burst into flames.

Footage shows orange flames and billowing smoke illuminating the dark rural path up to Phelps’ wooden home. 

Emergency crews arrived to tackle the blaze and the Springfield Fire Department’s bomb squad was deployed to the scene after authorities discovered a possible trip wire and detonated an explosive device as the fire continued into Tuesday morning, KOLR 10 reports. 

By morning, there was little left but piles of smoldering wood and ash.  

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The Missouri home (pictured) where missing Cassidy Rainwater was allegedly kept half naked in a cage by two men, has been gutted in a blaze as the homeowner sits in jail awaiting trial

Footage shows orange flames and billowing smoke illuminating the dark rural path up to Phelps' wooden home

Footage shows orange flames and billowing smoke illuminating the dark rural path up to Phelps’ wooden home

Emergency crews clear rubble at the Lebanon, Missouri home where Phelps allegedly kept Rainwater caged and partially nude

 Emergency crews clear rubble at the Lebanon, Missouri home where Phelps allegedly kept Rainwater caged and partially nude

By Tuesday morning, there was little left but piles of smoldering wood and ash

By Tuesday morning, there was little left but piles of smoldering wood and ash

Authorities said an investigation into the house fire is still ongoing

Authorities said an investigation into the house fire is still ongoing

James Phelps, 58 was charged with kidnapping, facilitating a felony, inflicting injury, and terrorizing in connection to the July 24 disappearance of Rainwater

Rainwater (pictured) has been missing since July. Meanwhile, authorities were able to determine that Phelps was the last person to have contact with her before she went missing

James Phelps, 58, left, is charged with kidnapping, facilitating a felony, inflicting injury, and terrorizing in connection to the July 24 disappearance of Rainwater, 33, right

The Division of Fire Safety are investigating the cause of the fire but have not yet said if it was arson or accidental.  

The sheriff’s office did not immediately comment on how the fire might impact the ongoing investigation into the 33-year-old Rainwater’s disappearance.   

Meanwhile, Phelps and Norton appeared before a judge via a webcam on Tuesday, where prosecutors asked for 45 days until the preliminary hearing due to the number of witnesses needed. 

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for November 5, according to OzarksFirst.

Rainwater was reported missing on August 25 after no one had seen or heard from her in six weeks, according to court documents obtained by WDAF

Phelps, who was the last known person to have seen Rainwater, was first questioned by police on September 1.

At that time, he said the 33-year-old had been staying with him ‘until she could get back on her feet’ and relocate to Colorado. 

Phelps appeared before a judge via a webcam (pictured) on Tuesday, where prosecutors asked for 45 days until the preliminary hearing due to the number of witnesses needed

Phelps appeared before a judge via a webcam (pictured) on Tuesday, where prosecutors asked for 45 days until the preliminary hearing due to the number of witnesses needed

Phelps' co-defendant Timothy L. Norton appears in court for charges connected to the disappearance of Cassidy Rainwater

Phelps’ co-defendant Timothy L. Norton appears in court for charges connected to the disappearance of Cassidy Rainwater

James Phelps, 58, (pictured) and Timothy L. Norton, 56, have each been charged with one count of first-degree kidnapping, facilitating a felony, inflicting injury, and terrorizing in connection to Rainwater's July disappearance

During the investigation it was revealed that Phelps had recruited Norton (pictured), an over-the-road trucker, to help him restrain the victim. Norton also confessed to knowing that Rainwater had been held captive

James Phelps, 58, (left) and Timothy L. Norton, 56, (right) have each been charged with one count of first-degree kidnapping, facilitating a felony, inflicting injury, and terrorizing in connection to Rainwater’s July disappearance 

However, he argued that she had left his residence about a month prior after meeting a vehicle at the end of the driveway and leaving in the middle of the night. He noted that she hadn’t contacted him since.

Detectives also noticed the property appeared to have been ‘stripped’ and none of Rainwater’s belongings were there. 

On September 16, local authorities were contacted by the FBI after the organization received an anonymous tip about photographs of Rainwater, partially naked, being held captive in a cage at Phelps’ house.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for Phelps’ phone and found seven pictures as the tipster described.

During the investigation it was revealed that Norton helped Phelps restrain the victim on July 24.

When brought in for questioning on September 19, Norton provided police with ‘inaccurate information,’ such as the fact that he lived in his semi-truck even when he wasn’t working.

Detectives interviewed Norton again the next day, at which he reportedly confessed to knowing that Rainwater had been held captive at Phelps’ home.  

There has been no news of Rainwater’s status whereabouts as of Wednesday morning.  

PHELPS' PROPERTY PICTURED BEFORE THE FIRE: FBI office in Kansas City contacted local authorities after receiving an anonymous photo of Rainwater

PHELPS’ PROPERTY PICTURED BEFORE THE FIRE: FBI office in Kansas City contacted local authorities after receiving an anonymous photo of Rainwater

The bomb squad was deployed to the scene after authorities discovered a possible trip wire, the outlet reports, with the bomb squad detonating an explosive device on Phelps' property

The bomb squad was deployed to the scene after authorities discovered a possible trip wire, the outlet reports, with the bomb squad detonating an explosive device on Phelps’ property

Phelps held Rainwater at his Moon Valley Road property in Lebanon, Mo. which is located about 160 miles southeast of St. Louis

Phelps held Rainwater at his Moon Valley Road property in Lebanon, Mo. which is located about 160 miles southeast of St. Louis


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