Webb City Police close roads surrounding police station, bomb squad summoned

WEBB CITY, Mo. – About 11:27 a.m.  Wednesday morning, November 2, 2022 Chief Don Melton of the Webb City Police Dept says a citizen brought what appears to be an old rusty bomb to the police department.

He tells KOAM’s Shannon Becker they cleared their building, the area and closed down streets.

“Individual from the community brought what appeared to be an unexploded military ordnance to the Webb City Police Department,” Chief Melton states. “The individual had found the ordnance while cleaning out a building in Webb City and had left the item in his vehicle on the parking lot of the police department.”

He said they summoned the Springfield Fire Dept Bomb Squad to assist with the situation. They arrived on scene about 2:15 p.m.

At 2:45 p.m. the all-clear was announced to the small crowd of onlookers that had gathered about a block away.

| BOMB SQUAD SUMMONED PREVIOUS >> Sheriff: Bomb detonated in dumpster near Parsons Courthouse

The bomb was inert.

The area was cleared to all traffic just before 3 p.m.

This is a breaking news story, stay with Joplin News First on KOAM News Now as we continue to learn more.



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Home of alleged kidnapper James Phelps burns down

DALLAS COUNTY, Mo. – Investigators say the home of alleged kidnapper James Phelps burned to the ground late Monday night.

Multiple fire crews responded to the scene on Moon Valley Road in the Windyville area of Dallas County, Missouri. They worked to put out hotspots. According to a Fox affiliate, while out there, a Dallas County deputy found something that resembled a tripwire. The Springfield bomb squad was sent to investigate. Authorities say they detonated an explosive device near the area of the fire.

The home belongs to James Phelps, one of two suspects charged with the kidnapping of 33-year-old Cassidy Rainwater. Prosecutors also charged Timothy Norton in the case. They both appeared in court on Tuesday.

The investigation into Rainwater’s disappearance moved forward when the FBI got an anonymous tip. The reporting party said there was a photo of her in a cage.

Cassidy Rainwater is still missing.

Missing Person Case

On August 26, 2021, the Dallas County, Missouri Sheriff’s Office took a missing person report. The reporting party told authorities that Cassidy Rainwater had been missing since July 25, 2021. The Sheriff’s Office says she has associations in Dallas, Laclede and Greene Counties in southwest Missouri.

After the report of Rainwater’s disappearance, authorities questioned James Phelps at his home on Moon Valley Road. They had determined he was the last known person to have contact with her. According to a Fox affiliate, Phelps acknowledged that Rainwater had been staying with him while she got back on her feet. However, he claims he hadn’t seen her since she left his property a month prior.

Authorities looked in the loft on his property where she was staying. They found it “stripped” with no personal belongings of Rainwater’s. They then left the property.

Anonymous Tip

On Sept. 16, the FBI office in Kansas City received an anonymous tip, which included a photo of Rainwater in a cage. The FBI forwarded that information to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office.

That same day, the Sheriff’s Office got a search warrant for James Phelps’ phone. They found several photos of Rainwater locked in a cage, according to court documents.

During a search of the property, deputies and federal agents took items for the investigation. Authorities have not disclosed what those items were.

James Phelps, Timothy Norton Arrested

Since the tip and search of the property, authorities have arrested two people.

Prosecutors charged James Phelps and Timothy Norton with felony kidnapping. According to court documents, investigators said Norton admitted he helped Phelps to restrain Rainwater.

Norton and Phelps are in the Dallas County Jail without bond.

The suspects appeared in court on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, via Polycom for a criminal hearing. The courts set a preliminary hearing for November 5 at 9:30 a.m.

Social Media Posts

Facebook Posts on Case from Dallas County Sheriff’s Office.

Initial Missing Person Report

A Sept. 1, 2021, Facebook post by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office called to the public for help in locating Rainwater.

“***Missing Person***
Dallas County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help locating 33 year old Cassidy Rainwater. Cassidy has been missing since July 25th. She has associations in Dallas, Laclede, and Greene Counties. Please contact Detective Simmons with any information as to her whereabouts. 417 345-2441″

James Phelps Arrest

The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office released the following information on Sept. 18, 2021:

“On 08/26/2021 DCSO received a missing person report on Cassidy Rainwater, a 33 year old woman with associations in Dallas, Laclede, and Greene Counties. The reporting party indicated Rainwater had been missing since July 25th of this year. On September 16, 2021, DCSO received information from the FBI leading them to a residence in the Windyville area of Dallas County. While on scene, the investigation lead to the arrest of James Phelps, a 58 year old white male.”

“Phelps is currently being held without bond in the Dallas County jail for Class B Felony kidnapping. DCSO and the Dallas County Prosecutor continue to investigate with the assistance of the FBI and the Greene County Crime Scene unit. Additional charges are expected in the coming days. Due to the extreme nature of the crime and the continuation of the investigation, additional details cannot be released at this time. There is no immediate danger to the public.”

Timothy Norton Arrest

Less than a week later, the Sheriff’s Office arrested another man in connection to the case. They posted the following to social media.

“Timothy Norton 56 years old from Lebanon, Mo was arrested on 09/21/2021 and charged with 1st degree kidnapping in connection with the missing person case of Cassidy Rainwater. Norton is being held without bond at this time.”

Rumors spread after arrest of James Phelps and Timothy Norton

Hundreds of people on different platforms are following the case. Some are discussing rumors of cannibalism and the possibility of other victims. Authorities have not confirmed much about the case.

According to a CBS affiliate, a neighbor briefly spoke with Phelps just one time during the past year and had heard the rumors of cannibalism.

Monday, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office posted to social media a recap of information released.

“As you are aware, Dallas County Sheriff’s Office has been investigating the missing person case of Cassidy Rainwater. The F.B.I. received information as to the possible whereabouts of Cassidy. On 09/16/2021 the F.B.I. forwarded this information to Dallas County Detectives. On that same date, we served a search warrant at an address on Moon Valley Road. While there, we recovered many items for further investigation.”

But, at this point, they are not ready to release any additional information, “To protect our investigative process and increase [the] possibility for successful prosecution, we have no additional comment,” the Sheriff’s Office stated. “This is an incredibly difficult time for Cassidy’s family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. We ask that you all respect their privacy.”