FBI Asks for Help Cracking Murder Victim’s Secret Code

In 1999, Ricky McCormick was found murdered in St. Louis, MO. In his pocket, investigators found hand-written notes in a secret code, which they’ve not been able to break–despite years of work by the FBI’s Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit (CRRU) and the American Cryptogram Association. On Wednesday (March 29, 2011), the FBI released the text from the to notes and a formal plea for help. “We are really good at what we do,” said CRRU chief Dan Olson, “but we could use some help with this one.” As of yet, there are no witnesses and no suspects.


Though McCormick was a high school drop-out, he was said to be smart; he’d been keeping notes in code since he was a child, but no one in his family knows how to decrypt them. The notes are written in a jumbled system of letter, numbers, parentheses and dashes, and traditional cryptoanalytical techniques have proven useless against them. And without a third (or similar) sample, there is very little to work with in the way of clues.

Though there is no monetary reward being offered by the FBI, any whip-crack decoders out there might find the key to solving this crime. If you’d like to give it a shot, the transcribed text is available for both notes. And should you feel you’ve made a valuable breakthrough, correspondence can be sent to the following address:

FBI Laboratory
Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit
2501 Investigation Parkway
Quantico, VA 22135
Attn: Ricky McCormick Case

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