Unsolved Codes of Ricky McCormick
After 12 years, the circumstances surrounding the 1999 murder of 41-year-old Ricky McCormick left the Federal Bureau of Investigation asking for help. Very few facts in the murder case of Ricky McCormick are known. His body was discovered face down in a field in St. Charles County, Missouri, and the only clues are two small pieces of paper found inside his pants pocket.
These two pieces of paper are the reason why the FBI is asking for assistance. They are believed to be encrypted notes, and if decoded, may provide vital information needed to solve the crime. The FBI feels it is possible for someone, other than their own Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Unit (CRRU), to crack the code.
By releasing images of the secret notes, the FBI is hoping new ideas on how they may be decoded will surface. Anyone with suggestions or any information about the case is encouraged to contact them.
The task of the CRRU is decrypting codes and ciphers, before or after, a crime has taken placed. Illegal activity is often hidden by messages, which to the average person, may seem like a normal grocery list or business letter. But if the receiver understands the system used to conceal the information, an ordinary note may be the order to perform a criminal act.
In the McCormick case the situation is a bit different. Since Ricky had been known to create codes as a child (although in 2012 this was put in to question), the strange notes may conceal information on where or who he was with during the last few days of his life. Ricky may have encoded the name of his murderer.
Although the CRRU is great at what they do, and have been successful in decoding lots of information (stopping and solving many crimes), there are a few codes which remain a mystery. The unexplained arrangement of letter and numbers found with Ricky McCormick is one of these.
The FBI has given tips on how a person might go about cracking a code. On their website they say there are 4 basic steps. They are as follows:
*determine the language
*determine the system
*reconstruct the key
*reconstruct the message
The codes of Ricky McCormick are not suspected to use any complex method of encoding. They are believed to be a basic form of encryption. The problem is no one knows the system or the possible key he used. The following is an example of why this is important.
If Ricky wanted to encode the word ‘help’, he may have decided to use the system of letter substitution. Each letter would stand for another. So ‘ACSM’ (found in the top right corner of note 1) could represent ‘HELP’. The key being A=H, C=E, S=L, and M=P. Of course this system continued through the remaining letters does not provide any coherent message.
Because there are endless possible systems and keys, the FBI is asking for help. It is possible someone may recognize the codes if Ricky had used them before. Any other example of his encoding methods would be valuable in trying to determine these current notes in question.
With many new people considering methods on how the notes may have been encrypted, it is hoped someone may stumble across Ricky’s key and system, revealing the messages he has hidden. Sometimes simple answers are overlooked and only need fresh ideas on how to find them. It is said everyone loves a mystery, but here is also a chance to bring justice to where it is needed.
FBI-Help Solve an Open Murder Case, reviewed April 2013
FBI-Help Break the Code, reviewed April 2013