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


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13 Responses

  1. Hello from Spain

    + If it is a letter, the signature of the author should be at the end (2nd note)

    –In my humble opinion the master key is in the 2nd note, last line.
    –I see that: “O-W-m-4 H8L XORLX”

    Can you see which letters aee repeated and where?
    Can you remember the Arthur´s C. Clarke joke about HAL 9000?

    Yes? Then my solution is……

    +If O=O, W=W and R=R
    +If m=N, H=I and L=M using Caesar Code B or +1 move
    +If X= Variations of the letter “C” (MC,C and KC) using shorthand

    +If 4= four= FOR by phonetic solution like SMS language.
    +If 8= eight= eit= ei= letter “A” by phonetic solution like SMS language
    (example L8= late or leight, H8= hate ….)

    +If the hyphen join the letters in a word (not number).
    +If we add vowel “i” by transcription shorthand solution.

    “O-W-m-4 H8L XORLX” means “OWN-FOR I AM MCCORM(i)CK”.

    It is the signature, last will or testament of Mccormick.

    + If you think “4″ is not “4″ but “y”
    + If you think “8″ is not “8″ but “I” then the solution is:

    “Y”= wai= WHY or WAY by phonetic solution, similar sound.
    “I”= ai= letter “A” by phonetic graphic representation.


    Bye from Spain

    • Jenny Kile says:

      Hi JSP, thanks for visiting from Spain. Interesting work.

    • Stacey De'Ville. says:

      Or it could just simply mean Day-Week-Month-Year.. and yes it is a Y because simply looking at how he writes 4 and Y are orientated differently indicating it is a Y. This guy had no formal education and was supposedly illiterate, as for whether he would concoct codes like this i very much doubt it, he was a drug dealer and knew not to write details about how much money was owed and what substances where on tick because it would incriminate him if caught, so the meaning is much more basic…. Stacey U.K

  2. Lynn Tailor says:

    Greetings from lynn tailor

    Something been bothering me seen i read an article about this. if Ricky McCormick was murdered, why did the murderer clean all the clues he left except the coded note. so i had an idea of what kind of person the murderer is:
    + the murderer must be someone who doesn’t know Ricky that much because if he knows him, he would just take the note and live the investigator clueless.

    +the murderer must be someone who knows McCormick but stupid enough to live a massive clue like that note (this one is just a hunch)

    + the murderer like to mock the investigator so he wrote the note himself and put it near McCormick ( i don’t know if this is true i mean theres nothing about telling the readers that this is McCormick’s handwriting)

    thank you for listening, i wish this might help you with your investigation

    Lynn Tailor

  3. KIM says:


  4. Nadjet says:

    Before investing time into deciphering the code, I wish more information was available about Ricky himself. Mainly, towards the end of life was he fully functional or was he suffering from schizophrenia. Not to sound mean, but his picture immediately reminded me of patients on any chronic psychiatric illness floor. If he was schizophrenic for example, it could explain a lot. Having being recently evicted from his home perhaps he wondered the city and passed in the location he was found due to heart attack (he had a history of heart problems) or malnutrition or something along those lines. This would explain why he only had these ultra bizarre notes on him. It would also explain the notes themselves and why they cannot be deciphered. Based on what little information there is on him, he at least attended some high school and was presumably loosely familiar with the structure of the English language and its characters. Maybe that is why there maybe a pattern and structure without meaning versus random letters without meaning. Without more information about who this man was, spending time attempting to decipher a code that the FBI could not break seems like an effort in futility. Maybe show the notes to a psychiatrist with years experience in mental illness, not to determine meaning but to see if he has seen “gibberish” like this before.”
    Just a thought.

  5. nadjet says:

    “Maybe that is why there maybe a pattern and structure without meaning versus random letters without meaning.”
    Should read, maybe that is why there is a pattern and structure to the note without meaning, versus random letters without meaning.

    There are more typos in my post, but that was bothering me the most. I should have proof read, my bad.

  6. I am responding to the comment by Ms. Tailor, Kim and others.

    There has been little, if any suggestion, that Mr. McCormick was murdered, nor was there any indication that anyone he knew, or knew him, would have reason to.(To be sure, I do believe he was somehow, yes, killed. Of course, that leaves open a wide range of possibilities, including manslaughter, negligence, depraved indifference, and the like.

    Indeed, this is one of several reasons this case retains for me, (and some government officials?)
    quite significant: less for what it says about the troubled life and sad fate of Mr. McCormick; rather what it reveals about us: our indifference to the fate of a fellow human being, our conceit that to classify someone else is to understand them (“ex-con,” “dyslexic”, “schizophrenic”, etc.) , or particularly care,
    about why a human being, was dumped far from his home.

    The “Notes” which have come to bear his name, are presumed, to have been written by him, but there
    is little if any, evidence that these notations are his either. (I suspect for various reasons submitted to various websites, including the authorities,

  7. Hello again

    Maybe it’s time to tell the whole story of the dead hitchhiker, his treasure and the death of Elroe Carr according to Occam’s razor.

    + First answer
    Once upon a time a man sick, really sick (McCormick suffered from chronic heart and lung problems)……, a human being was dumped far from his home, 15 miles from his current address, in a cornfield in St. Charles County ,

    The last place that McCormick had been seen alive was five days earlier, on June 25, 1999, at the St. Louis Forest Park Hospital, where he was getting a checkup.

    Two hand-written documents were found in the pockets of Ricky McCormick.

    in the pockets ……Why?

    ….. because nobody wanted to empty his pockets.
    No one seeks money or evidence.
    Neither thief or murderer…..No one but a driver who has picked up a hitchhiker, a frightened man wants to get rid of a body right away.

    A natural death of a man who returns home.

    To be continued

    • IMHO notes can be divided into four parts:
      1+ Note one: Work planning for monday & Autobiography
      2+ Note two: Caution & Description of the place where the case is hidden.

      1+ Monday Mccormick to go a Marais temps Clair CA to hide something at the sight of all / Important events in the life of Mccormick (1971, 1974, 1975, murder, 1994).

      2+ Explanation of how to locate the place where are buried more than $ 99,840 and something else under a shed to watch the birds/ Advice about the use of money,

      And that is the meaning of the notes of the Hitchhiker, a strange mixture of last will and repentance… IMHO of course.

      To be continued

      • Why ?
        Because this is the simplest solution

        Have you followed the evidence from the beginning?

        1+ June 30, 1999. Body was found in an open area by the southeast corner of the cornfield between the field road and a densely foliated levee, which is an old railroad grade along the southbound side of Highway 367 on Wednesday afternoon (the levee is an unfinished section of the Katy Trail) and the area is not served by public transportation
        2+ Two hand-written documents were found in the pockets of a body (In, not Out)
        3+ No evidence of crime
        4+ McCormick was identified by his fingerprints
        5+ McCormick had a St. Louis address, 1400 Chouteau Avenue. The reason for him being 15 miles from his current address is another mystery.
        6+ McCormick suffered from chronic heart and lung problems and authorities have not ruled out the possibility that his health may have contributed to his death. McCormick had a history of ER visits and had suffered from asthma and chest pains since childhood.
        7+ He was seen alive late in the afternoon of June 25 at Forest Park Hospital in St. Louis, where he entered the emergency room. This time he complained that he was having trouble breathing. He was not admitted and was officially released.
        8+ No one had reported him missing……He was not married but he was the father of at least four children.
        9+ McCormick had a criminal record but Maj. Tom O’Connor of the Major Case Squad and St. Charles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kevin Wilson said they do not believe it contributed to his death.
        10+ Authorities found no evidence of fights or disagreements McCormick might have had.
        11+ McCormick was unemployed and on disability welfare but he was not homeless.
        12+ McCormick was a high school dropout
        13+ His father, Charles McCormick, said Ricky “couldn’t spell anything, just scribble.” His mother, Frankie Sparks, said “The only thing he could write was his name. … He didn’t write in no code.”
        14+ McCormick did not own a car.
        15+ He seemed scared.
        16+ McCormick told Jones he was holding the stashes of weed for Baha Hamdallah, the police report states.
        17+ McCormick subsisted on occasional odd jobs — floor mopper, dishwasher, busboy, service-station attendant — and disability checks he collected due to chronic heart problems.
        On the Amoco gas station, at 1401 Chouteau Avenue south of downtown St. Louis where he worked, there he met the Hamdallah brothers (owner of the business).
        18+ Confidential informants told police Elroe Carr was killed “at the behest of Baha Hamdallah,” 1998 Baha allegedly threatened to kill Carr, described by family and acquaintances as a sometimes-homeless drug addict, if he didn’t get off the property with a rusty hammer.
        19+ About the notes: one page looks like message format but the others reminds me of notes like you´d
        take during a meeting, as an unfinished draft of something.

        People lie. The evidence does not lie


        • IF
          + The body was not hidden

          + The identity of the body was not hidden (fingerprints)
          but in the pockets no personal documentation except notes because no one seeking in the pockets. A murderer or a thief empty pockets to steal or remove evidence

          + He is a sick man, his illness is chronic and he knows better than anyone his health and so…..
          1+ Natural death, it is quite possible
          2+ Fear to death, lt is quite possible

          …and so a man goes to ER
          ….and so a man writes a last will

          A medical examiner has not been able to determine an exact cause of death . An initial medical examination found no obvious gunshot or knife wounds, or injury with a rusty hammer.


          …the key is in the notes, the notes look different because it is necessary that the notes are different:

          The first part of the first note was written in a quiet place, maybe at home. The rest of the text was written somewhere away from home, in a strange place and in an informal way. This explains errors and dirty look.

          It may be a sound, syllable or word
          It can be a measure of something
          A last will have money, property and secrets

          71, 73, 74, 94 seem to follow an order, maybe the events of a lifetime. (He was released from prison in 1994 ….some terrific -(TRF XL = TeRriFic CoMe)

          99.84. S (or 5 with tail) = 99, 840 $ because the tail moves to the center of the character and also in my geometric shorthand manual the points are translated like this.

          35, 34, 29, 651 …..
          I guess they are measures to find the money hidden in some place beyond where the body was found,somewhere like to a “Treasure Island”:
          Marais temps clair CA, a protected and preserved place by the law ( 35, 34, and 29 miles from Mccormik´s home (by triangulation) , and 651 measures or steps from Marais home or HQ to the money)

          So a hitchhiker buried a suitcase here and something else and he did not come home because he died on the way and the driver left the corpse next to the 367 highway

          And the secret hidden in the will?
          a murder.

          To be continued

  8. Jacob says:

    There is too much missing information for this to be real, in my opinion.
    Why does the FBI continue to state that Ricky used code since he was a boy when his family denies it?
    This sounds like it could be a recruitment scheme.

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