Unsolved killing from 1999 baffles experts; victim’s writing may hold clues to his death
ST. LOUIS — Are you good at solving puzzles and cracking codes? If so, the Federal Bureau of Investigation needs your help in cracking a code connected to a homicide in Missouri.
The mystery begins in a St. Louis field on June 30, 1999. Ricky McCormick, 41, was found dead there, and his killer hasn’t been caught.
That’s where you come in. The FBI said two encrypted notes were found in the victim’s pants, and their code crackers haven’t been able to figure out what the notes mean.
“We are really good at what we do,” said Dan Olson, the chief of the FBI’s Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit. “But we could use some help with this one.”
“Breaking this code could reveal the victim’s whereabouts before his death and could lead to the solution of a homicide,” Olson said. “Not every cipher we get arrives at our door under those circumstances.”
“Even if we found out that he was writing a grocery list or a love letter, we would still want to see how the code is solved. This is a cipher system we know nothing about,” Olson said.
McCormick was a high school dropout, but he was able to read and write and was said to be “street smart,” the FBI said. Members of his family told authorities that he had used such encrypted notes since he was a boy, but it’s unknown whether anyone besides McCormick could translate his secret language.
The FBI said investigators believe the notes, which contain more than 30 lines, were written up to three days before his death.
If you have an idea how to break the code, or you have seen similar codes, contact the FBI:
Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit
2501 Investigation Parkway
Quantico, VA 22135
Attn: Ricky McCormick Case