Unresolved murders are always a sad thing. Most people want closure on what transpired. The strange case of Ricky McCormick was not just an unresolved murder, but something more. It had to do with encrypted puzzles and notes which have made the death even more mysterious and unresolved since over eighteen years now.
Ricky McCormick was murdered at the end of May 1999 but it took a few days before his body was found and identified. He was discovered in a field in St. Charles Country, Missouri, in a pretty bad state of decomposition. It took some time to identify the body which had been found by a woman driving in the vicinity. She called the police who arrived, removed the body and looked for signs of identification. At this point they were not sure if this was an accidental death or a murder. The body was removed and investigations began.
Homicide or murder?
Initially the police were unsure. The most important task was to identify the body and find out the cause of death.
The victim was Ricky McCormick, a 41 year old man. He was identified through his fingerprints. Ricky made things easy for the detectives, but difficult too. He had left behind clues. Notes were found in his pockets but – and here is the mystery – they were clearly written in code. Ricky McCormick knew he was going to die and he left encrypted notes in his pocket, hoping they would be found.
So, what did the police know, apart from the fact that there was ‘evidence’ on his body. Well, they knew he was a 41 year old black man. They knew he had never finished high school and that he had a criminal record, which included statutory rape. They knew he had at least four children and that at the time of his death he did not have a job and he was collecting disability.
But they did not know how he had died.
Investigations began and McCormick’s last steps were traced. He’d been for a medical check up at the St. Louis Forest Park Hospital on the 25th of June. He’d chatted to his girlfriend on the phone on the 26th of June, late morning. And then he’d disappeared.
Initially McCormick’s death was ruled as ‘undetermined’ but detectives were still intrigued by the coded notes they had found on him. They made one huge mistake though. They never made the notes public. They were a mix of letters and numbers, definitely in some kind of code. But the never asked for help in deciphering them. They let them be.
As the case got colder, the FBI posted the notes on one of their website pages, asking for help from professionals. Many people responded, so much so that the FBI could barely keep up with the responses. This was 12 years after his death. 12 wasted years, apparently.
For some bizarre reason, the FBI did not tell McCormick’s family about the notes. They only found out about them 12 years after his death, with the rest of the general public.
It seems that the FBI may well have botched this case. Although they never found stab wounds, gun wounds or even strangulation wounds on the body, murder was definitely suspected. The field where the body had been found was almost known as a ‘dumping ground.’
The FBI had, without the notes, found out a lot of information about McCormick. He did not have a high IQ .His friends were drug dealers and he had a drug problem. He’d recently bought marijuana. His friends were dodgy and not only did he hang out with drug dealers but also with diagnosed sociopath. McCormick himself ay have had some mental issues.
Yet, the FBI, desperate to find something, made the notes public. People with experience in code came forward. The notes almost became an internet sensation themselves because they were so bizarre. Anyone with experience in code would tell you that these were definite codes.
And yet – McCormick could barely write. His spelling was shocking, he had dropped out of school and he had a very low IQ. These codes beat the FBI. These codes beat even the most brilliant cryptologists.
And to this day, nobody knows what they mean and nobody knows who murdered McCormick.
Codes have fascinated the world for a long time. Spies have used them in the cold war and in world wars. Codes are common between countries at war, Russia and America have both developed codes to keep their secrets safe. And codes have been used in the past by serial killers.
These codes are good. They are so good that they are still undeciphered. There are people who think it was not possible for McCormick to have worked out and / or written these codes on his own. Which means that this could be a story that is not just about McCormick. Maybe this is a story about McCormick and other gangsters or criminals. People think McCormick may have been carrying a message from one drug dealer to another or from one gangster to another. He may have just got caught in the cross fire.
There has been no closure for the McCormick family. It has been 18 long years of not knowing anything. The mystery remains as to who killed McCormick and why they killed him. Yes, it is true. He was not a bright man and he was a criminal. He had been found guilty of statutory rape and he dealt in drugs. He had made many mistakes and caused a lot of grief in his life.
But – did he deserve to die? The answer is probably no. And what about the codes. Ricky McCormick himself may never have known. But somebody out there does. Somebody out there has his secrets. It would be good to know them.