All of the twists and turns in Ricky McCormick’s murder have made it one of the most intriguing true crime cases ever, starting with the fact that police kept two encoded notes found in his pocket a secret for 12 years before asking the general public for help translating them.
Ricky was a troubled man who suffered from severe heart and lung conditions, had four illegitimate kids, lived with his elderly mother one and off for years, and had recently served jail time for statutory rape. At the time of his death, he was living on disability benefits and was 41 years old. When his body was found in a ditch in 1999 near West Alton, MO, he had already been missing for five days, and police ruled out homicide.
However, there were questions surrounding the case. He was 15 miles away from home, yet he didn’t have a car and public transportation did not go where he was found. Then, 12 years later, the FBI revealed that his death was, in fact, a murder. Not only that, but he had two encrypted notes in his pockets when he was found. Police determined the notes were probably written within three days of his death.
At first, family members reportedly said that Ricky had written in code since he was a kid, which lead police to believe that he was the author. However, a 2012 report from the River Front Times featured new interviews with his family, who claimed that Ricky couldn’t spell, he just scribbled. “[His] family members say they never knew of Ricky to write in code,” said the report. “They say they only told investigators he sometimes jotted down nonsense he called writing, and they seriously question McCormick’s capacity to craft the notes found in his pockets.” So were the notes written by the killer?
The FBI believes that the coded notes may hold the key to Ricky’s unsolved murder. The FBI’s Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit (CRRU) and the American Cryptogram Association came up empty-handed, so they reached out to the public for help. Hundreds responded immediately, so the FBI set up a page where amateur decoders could submit theories. So far, we still have no idea what the notes mean, or who killed Ricky McCormick.
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